All it took was one simple two-sentence email from Kelly Associates broker Kate Bates to her colleagues.
In August, her email asked if anyone was interested in donating a few specific supplies to her brother-in-law's company in Afghanistan. She was overwhelmed by the response she received.
"I ended up collecting everything on the list that my brother-in-law gave me and more. My desk at Kelly Associates was the collection hub. We ended up sending over eight huge boxes that were chock full with coffee, beef jerky, great cigars," she said.
Since 2003, Bates has lived in Darien with her husband. She has three daughters, 5, 6 and 17 years old. She joined Kelly Associates in 2006 and has been working hard ever since.
"Choosing to work at Kelly was an easy decision," Bates said. "I wanted to be at a place that was family-oriented and invested in this wonderful community."
Kelly Associates has been family-owned and operated since President Gino Kelly founded it almost 25 years ago.
To add a more personal touch to the supply package, the Kelly crew added lots of Darien stuff, like stickers and coasters. The agents also gathered emails and handmade cards from schoolchildren in town, including drawings of flags and what the kids thought the troops looked like.
The boxes were shipped out in late August and took several weeks to arrive in Afghanistan.
In his civilian life, Kate Bates' brother-in-law James E. Bates, M.D. runs a private practice in San Diego called Alvarado Orthopedic Medical Group Inc. In the service, he is a captain in the U.S. Navy with Forward Surgical Team Apache.
"He's there with other major doctors," his sister-in-law said. "They are taking care of severely hurt soldiers from America, Australia, Afghanistan and other countries. Everyone who is there helping to take care of these soldiers is in a dangerous situation, as they are not far from the front lines."
Once the boxes got to Forward Surgical Team Apache, the captain handed out the supplies.
To show their appreciation for Kelly Associates, the crew members flew a flag at the base in their honor and awarded the company a special certificate and patch.
Kelly Associates Vice President Jeff Kelly knew the gifts from Bates and his team members were special and should be appropriately showcased. He turned to Geary Gallery of Darien to do the framing for the certificate, which now hangs in the Kelly Associates office.
"The people who work at Kelly Associates are super generous," Kate Bates said. "I've been there a long time and I can always count on the agents."
Her brother-in-law sent the staff at Kelly Associates a thank-you email, which read, "Darien rocks!"
Kate Bates added, "We put Darien on the map in Afghanistan. We told them, Darien loves you guys."
As for the captain, he is supposed to be returning home in November. "The Bates family is supposed to meet up in Annapolis to greet him," Kate Bates said. "He has orders to go back, but we are hoping they won't come through."