Students show appreciation to deployed soldiers

With Veteran’s Day fast approaching, St. Edward’s University continues to show appreciation towards those currently serving in the military through the Write a Letter to a Soldier campaign.

The Hilltop Student Veteran Association (HSVA) in conjunction with the St. Edward’s Veteran’s Affairs Office has adopted deployed military units for the past five years. They collect letters, cards and various items from students, faculty and staff, and mail them to these deployed units.

Types of items that are generally sent include beef jerky, sunflower seeds, individual- sized toiletries, nuts, candy, drink mixes and batteries, according to Veteran Affairs Coordinator, Chris Garcia.

“If we know the names of the soldiers in the unit, we make individual Christmas stockings for each one. We generally collect enough items to fill 20-30 boxes and we use about $300 in postage to mail the boxes. The goal is to just send a little holiday cheer from SEU and to say thanks for their service,” Garcia said. “Some professors offer extra credit if their students contribute to the drive.”

Garcia, along with St. Edward’s student Dianey Leal have been co-sponsoring the Write a Letter to a Soldier campaign for the past three years as a way to say thank you to those who have and those who are currently are serving in the military.

“I knew that I wanted to be involved with my community, but I just didn’t know where to start. Luckily, Lu Serna from Campus Ministry gave me the opportunity to discuss some of my ideas, one of which included writing letters to deployed soldiers,” Leal said. “He then referred me to Garcia. After talking to (Garcia), I knew very well that I wanted my project to honor our soldiers and that’s how Write a Letter to a Soldier initiated.”

Though Leal has no direct relationship to anyone serving in the military, she has still reaped the rewards and satisfaction from initiating the campaign. She simply admires the selfless contributions each individual shows towards the nation and feels that it is extremely important for citizens to show their support and appreciation.

“Most people assume that I have a family member in the military when I talk to them about this project, but I don’t. I simply want to show my appreciation towards these men and women who continue to devote their time and energy to protecting us and our country’s core principles,” Leal said.

Leal understands that everyone shares different opinions when it comes to certain issues, such as war. What she believes is the most important part of this campaign is to recognize the soldiers, and not people’s conflicting views.

“Regardless of where people stand on their opinion of war, I think it’s important that we all come together to support these men and women for their selfless contributions to our nation. It is because of them that we continue to enjoy our freedom and writing a letter to show our appreciation is a great way to remind them that we support them,” Leal said.

Write a Letter to a Solder started off as a small campaign with not many students aware of it. Through the help of different organizations, particularly the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), the Veteran Association, the Health Services office and the Financial Aid office, it has helped the project successfully grow year to year.

Each year CAMP students make posters and yellow ribbons, bake goodies, and informing other students about it.

Both Garcia and Leal agree that the response from students and faculty has been overwhelming and it is admiring to see how supportive the St. Edward’s community is.

“I feel honored to be a part of such a supportive community. This project has been successful thanks to the wonderful people who continue to support our cause,” Leal said.

Like Leal, sophmore Maria Cantu also finds a lot of personal reward through the campaign.

“If a simple letter, drawing, or a small care package will make (soldiers) feel happy and appreciated and loved, then we should do everything we can to make this happen,” Cantu said.

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