Students show care for soldiers

Alessandro Roco

Though thousands of soldiers stationed in Iraq may not have the opportunity to spend the holidays at home with their friends and families, students at the University have made an extra effort to show the troops that they will not be left off the students’ Christmas lists by sending care packages.The Beta Theta Pi fraternity, along with the Kappa Delta sorority, have been inspired by alumni who have been or had been stationed in Iraq for extended periods of time and have had to spend many holidays and other special occasions away from loved ones at home.”I think it is so important to recognize the incredible efforts that our troops in Iraq have put forth,” Rebecca Ray, Panhellenic representative of Kappa Delta said. “I think that the care packages we’re sending will bring some joy into their hearts over the holidays.”One alumnus, Ted Adair (’00), who had previously spent four years in the service, recalls having spent a total of four Thanksgivings and two Christmases away from home and how it is important to make the troops feel good about their cause, especially during the holidays.”Let me be the first to say that it is downright miserable,” he said. “So this [project] is about doing something good for people who won’t have home-cooked meals, warm fires and family get-togethers this holiday season.”Three months ago, another alumnus, Benjamin Spang (’02), a member of Beta Theta Pi, was deployed to Iraq where he currently has nine months left in his year-long term. Jason Williams, philanthropy chair of Beta Theta Pi and an organizer of the Christmas care package project, felt that because soldiers have to spend Christmas away from their families, they need to feel appreciation from those back home.”A fraternity is a sense of brotherhood that extends past the four years of college, and creates a bond with those who have come before, even those you may never have met,” said Williams. “Taking on this was a way for the brothers of Beta Theta Pi to show our respect and dedication to Ben Spang as a brother and our utmost appreciation to him and his unit over in Iraq for protecting our country.”However, a major message Williams does not want to send is a political one. The reason for sending the care packages is in no way politically motivated.”We weren’t taking a stand for or against the war. We just wanted to give this group of men some semblance of a holiday season,” he said.The care packages contain a variety of over 30 items. Some of the items included are necessities for the soldiers, such as eye drops, multi-vitamins, sunscreen, and toothbrushes, while others are included for entertainment such as magazines (six months or newer), puzzle books, and disposable cameras. Also included in each care package is a letter from a student thanking the soldiers for their continued service and sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday season.In order to raise enough money to ship the care packages abroad, which will cost around $700, the fraternity and sorority team raffled off a basketball signed by each of the men’s basketball players and coaches. Many Villanova students responded well to the raffle.”I was hoping [the raffle] would get the students excited,” said Williams. “The raffle went pretty well, and we also received some alumni donations.”