On the Friday before Thanksgiving, UNC Pembroke's Disabled Student Organization (DSO) and Student Government Association (SGA) packed items to send to service men and women overseas for the holidays.
"The project is a show of support for the service men that put their lives on the line, so we can feel safe to go about our daily lives," said Lenora Parker, DSO president. "The SGA voted unanimously to support this effort."
The idea originated with Parker and UNCP student Lisa Wright, who is a service wife. They have adopted Charley Company of the 307th Engineering Group of the U.S. Army.
"My husband has been serving in Afghanistan since July of this year, and probably won't come home until early next year," Wright said. "I do not know at this time where my husband is. I have been told that it is a remote location. His unit will be without electricity or hot meals for quite sometime."
"I was telling Lenora that I was trying to put together gift packages for the unmarried soldiers in my husband's company, but I did not have enough money," Wright said. "We started brainstorming, and everybody just jumped on board."
Two rooms in UNCP's Disability Support Services offices were filled to the brim with boxes and donated items, including packaged foods, toiletries, books, magazines and baby wipes.
When they are out in the desert, baby wipes may be the only way to bathe, Wright explained. "We were looking for high protein foods and snack foods too. When they are not in caves and minefields, they get bored, so we wanted reading material, cards and games."
The complete wish list consists of items that the service men and women needed. Cash donations will also be accepted and will be used only to assist with the shipping costs of each care package. If interested, please call: 910.521.5276.
The response was overwhelming.
"I am so proud of my school," Wright said. "I appreciate what they are doing for my husband and his company."
UNCP administrators were also impressed with the outpouring of aid.
"This project has been met with overwhelming support, on and off campus," said Mary Helen Walker, director of UNCP's Disability Support Services. "Our troops badly need support like this from home. Conditions are harsh, and they are lonely, especially over the holidays.
Food Lion, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Wise Foods, the Beef Jerkey Outlet, Med Rx and Lowe's Food made donations. Campbell Soup donated 480 cans of soup, three for each soldier.
Here is a list of items collected for the soldiers:
NON-FOOD ITEMS: Zip lock bags (any size), baby wipes, toilet paper, non-disposable razors, shaving cream, playing cards, deodorant, travel size shampoo, books (science fiction, westerns, mysteries, war stories, etc.), magazines (sports, Field and Stream, tattoo, motorcycle and car, Reader's Digest, Maxim, FHM, Outdoor Living, etc.), comic books (Spiderman, X-men, Superman, Wolverine, etc.), crossword puzzle books, word search books, envelopes, stationary, pens and letters
FOOD ITEMS: canned tuna and chicken, crackers, peanut butter, cheese and crackers, Kool-Aid with sugar, juice box drinks, chips (any kind), snack cakes and bars, poptarts, beef jerky/beef sticks, trail mixes, packaged cookies, snack-pack puddings, popcorn in a bag, candy (any kind), Campbell's soup to go, peanuts, chewing gum and canned foods.