Hokies prep care packages for troops ahead of Military Bowl

WASHINGTON (WDBJ) -- With still two days until the team takes the field, the Hokies put their energy towards the troops on Saturday.

"This group has said they're going to do it in 30 minutes, so we're going to see, but I can tell you they've got the excitement," said Sandra Evers-Manly, the president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

The goal was to fill 1,000 care packages in a half hour, which the United Service Organizations will send to service men and women around the world.

"At Virginia Tech, our motto is Ut Prosim, which means 'That I May Serve,' so it feels really good to help these guys out," said sophomore tight end Dalton Keene.

The USO sends more than 14,000 care packages out each year. Virginia Tech and Cincinnati combined to pack 2,000 of those over the course of a few hours on Saturday.

Players also filled out personalized note cards to be included with the packages, giving the team a true appreciation for the spirit of the Military Bowl.

"This is a bowl with a purpose, is what I like to call it. It's supporting our military," said Evers-Manly. "It also gives our young people an opportunity to support those who support us to keep us out of harm's way."

While the actual game is in Annapolis, Maryland, the Hokies have spent most of their time in Washington, taking in all the capital city has to offer.

"It's not only the military aspect, it's the economic impact we have on this region and giving these kids an educational experience," said Steve Beck, the Military Bowl's president and executive director. "They come down to Washington, D.C. A lot of them have never been here before. They get the opportunity to go to the mall and monuments, the African American Museum, the US Capitol. It's really a special trip for these guys."

For players like Keene, whose uncle and cousin serve in the Marine Corps, the entire experience has been a rewarding one.

"It's pretty cool and, especially at the Military Bowl, it has a purpose that means a lot to so many people, so it's definitely a really cool bowl to come to," he said. "We're in Washington, D.C., which is our capital, and it's something really cool that not a lot of people get to see all the time."

Virginia Tech will play Cincinnati in the Military Bowl on December 31 at noon.