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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Sending support overseas

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

URI student coordinates care package program

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 28, 2005 -- What do poker chips, Kool-Aid packets, puzzle books, and cookies have in common? They are all items included in the more than 100 care packages assembled by University of Rhode Island students last month that will be sent to American troops in Iraq.

Third-year pharmacy major Kellye Loethen coordinated the “Care Packages for Soldiers” event, which involved 70 URI students. “I have a lot of friends from home who are serving overseas, and I thought it was important for the students to show their support of our troops,” said Loethen, a resident of Kansas City, Mo.

She used the organization Any Soldier to help her reach the military. Any Soldier Inc., based in Maryland, provides the contacts and request lists for more than 3,000 soldiers in large units overseas. It also provides information on obtaining the necessary customs forms that must accompany each package in order to be shipped to Iraq.

Loethen, who is a member of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and the philanthropy chair of the Panhellenic Council, first employed the help of the Greek system to assist her with the project, but then reached out to other on-campus organizations for financial aid and support. Besides the Panhellenic Council, organizations involved included the Student Alumni Association, the Student Entertainment Committee, the URI Student Senate, and the Model UN. “It is such a good cause that it was not difficult to get people to support it,” she said.

Students were asked to collect the snacks, toiletries, small games, and other comfort items. On the night of the event these items, along with personalized letters from Loethen and sorority members, were placed in shoeboxes to be sent overseas. In her letter, she included her email information, with the hopes that some soldiers will contact her and begin a correspondence. The boxes will arrive in Iraq next month.

Loethen was very pleased with the student turnout. “I think it says a lot about
our campus, that students were willing to show their support for the soldiers defending our country, even though not all of them agree with the war,” she said.

She also would like to hold the event again next year; that is if troops are still in Iraq. “I am hoping that IF the war is still going on then we will continue, of course, in an ideal world, the war would be over and there would be no need to send more packages.”