Fayette, Iowa (December 7, 2006) – Upper Iowa University students, faculty and staff showed their holiday spirit when Karla Gavin, director of career services, sent out an e-mail asking for assistance to make the holidays a little cheerier for its deployed military students. Within four hours of sending out the request, Gavin had over two-thirds of the names spoken for. By the end of the next day, all of the 38 names submitted were claimed.
“I’m not surprised by the response,” stated Gavin. “It’s such a good cause, especially this time of year. UIU students and staff are always supportive of this sort of thing.” She added, “Regardless of one’s feelings about the war, it’s good to show our students they have moral support back home.”
Gavin explained that entire departments throughout the University, as well as individuals, took on names as a Christmas project. In addition, six student organizations on campus – Science and Environmental, Phi Beta Delta, BTQ, Real Life, Gamma Delta Phi, and PBL – took two names each to send packages to.
To simplify the process, Gavin prepared a list of the most requested items to buy, obtained boxes and customs forms, and explained the mailing procedure. Daily hygiene items such as toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant are appreciated by the troops, as well as lip balm, foot powder and eye drops. Gavin said, “Sunglasses and decks of cards are also very popular.”
Sending care packages is not new to Gavin, who also teaches a freshman Wellness Strategies class each fall. This year she had her class help prepare packages for eight soldiers. “It started with a request for an online pen pal from a soldier in my local paper in Glenwood, Minn.,” said Gavin. “I recognized the name because his sister and I were arch rivals in basketball, so that was the ice-breaker.” Gavin said she hasn’t heard from him for a while but is hoping for the best since he is scheduled to return stateside.
As a final touch to each package, Gavin suggests including a personal note of encouragement and kindness. “Sometimes a gesture like this leads to lifetime friendships,” she said. “I hope we can do this several times a year to keep the goodwill ongoing.”
For more information about sending care packages to the troops, go www.operationusocarepackage.org.