By Jayne Gest
While it is not possible to take away the pain of separation that soldiers feel for their friends and family, this winter quarter the College of Business is lifting spirits by sending care packages to Ohio University's students, employees and alumni who have been called to active duty.
With the help of the Ohio University's Veteran's Support Group, the college will send care packages filled with games, magazines, cookies, toiletries, telephone cards, and other small items to the troops. Some new additions to this year's packages include Marching 110 CDs donated by the band and homemade hugs, which are neck wraps that can either be heated or cooled to lower or raise body temperature and worn under a uniform.
Pam Boger, a management systems lecturer who helps spearhead the project, said the project has gotten a lot of positive support, and she gets as many e-mails asking how to help as e-mails with names of troops to send packages to. Some of the soldiers who received packages last year are back now and wanting to help.
"It's something that needs to be done. Just as a mother, I can imagine those kids over there," she said, adding that she has two children about that age.
David Logan, leader of Ohio University's Veterans Support Group, said the veteran's support group had sent small scale packages in the past, but the College of Business used organizational skills to make this happen on a large scale with the veterans' support group lending help anyway they can.
"Our group has the whole political spectrum of people – people who oppose the war and people who support the war, but we all agree that we can't forget our troops over there," he said. Logan is a Vietnam veteran who said he knows what it's like to come home to a hostile public.
The care package project has evolved from a Christmas party in 2003 when an administrative assistant in the College of Business began talking about her nephew who was serving in Iraq. After the party, faculty and staff sent 30 rice crispy treats for him to share with his fellow troops.
In spring 2004, faculty and staff sent care packages to all of the College of Business majors deployed and then last year opened the project to the entire campus, sending 40 care packages to the troops.
Last year, Boger said she sent out 60 thank you notes to various businesses and individuals who helped with the project in some way. She also received several thank you e-mails and letters from the soldiers and their families.
President McDavis's office pays for the postage, and businesses throughout Athens have either donated supplies or contributed money. Last year more than $2,000 in monetary contributions were collected to help pay for the packages.
One of the bigger contributors was the national honors accounting fraternity, Beta Alpha Psi, who collected over $500 by asking for donations at college gate. Kristen Meyer, president of the Ohio University chapter, said that group plans to do this again in February.
Anyone who knows the name of a Bobcat currently serving or who wants to help out with the project can please e-mail Pam Boger at firstname.lastname@example.org before Feb. 28. Packages will be shipped on March 3.