They won’t be home for Christmas, but thanks to a group of UNC Pembroke students Christmas will be a little better for members of three platoons in Iraq.
Loading up – From left: Sharonda Bullock, Ashley Boss, Christa Watts, Andrew Kolb and Victor Gonzales
Six boxes weighing a total of 225 pounds left UNCP’s campus on November 13 headed for Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune before taking the longer trip to outposts in Al Kut, Ramadi and Al Asad, Iraq.
The UNCP students were part of Christa Watts’ Freshman Seminar class. She said the students could choose between five hours of community service or putting together Christmas boxes.
Watts, who is coordinator for First Year Programs in the Center for Academic Excellence, got a list of most-wanted items including candy, snacks, stationary, CDs, movies, magazines and hygiene products.
“The students really came through,” Watts said. “They had their hearts in it, and it showed with the volume of contributions.”
“I have friends over there, so I know they will appreciate the students’ good work,” she added.
Ashley Boss, a first-year student from Raleigh, N.C., got into the spirit.
“It cost me about $60 getting everything on the list,” Boss said. “I think I overspent, but it is worth it.”
Off to Iqaq – From left: Instructor Christa Watts with students Sharonda Bullock, Ashley Boss, Andrew Kolb and Victor Gonzales
“I’ve done volunteering before, but this was different,” she said. “I’m glad we did it for the holidays.”
Andrew Kolb, also from Raleigh, said freshman seminar teaches the “ins and outs” of college. And, he was glad to have the opportunity to support the troops.
“This was a real good idea,” he said. “Supporting the troops is important over the holidays and year around.”
Freshman seminar is a required 12-week course that introduces students to academic life at UNCP and more. Community service is part of the “more,” Watts said.
“Service learning is one of the core components of freshman seminar,” she said. “With this, we are able to link new students to UNCP’s leadership programs for other opportunities.”
“I think freshmen seminar is a valuable program that weaves our newest students into the fabric of the total university experience,” Watts said.