Mason Military Outreach Kicks Off with Care Package Drive

Posted: September 6, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Probst

It’s difficult to imagine that a box of granola bars and a jar of peanut butter can brighten someone’s day, but from the perspective of a soldier who is on the other side of the world and far away from his or her family, a small gesture of kindness from a stranger can be an uplifting surprise.

In an effort to reach out to the Mason community, the Staff Senate and Human Resources and Payroll (HR) are teaming up to launch a new initiative called Mason Military Outreach (MMO). The first program of MMO will take place as a Lunch and Learn today at noon in the Meese Conference Room. The Staff Senate will supply refreshments.

The initiative is designed to offer support to members of the Mason community who are deployed, facing deployment, returning from deployment or have a family member or loved one who is in any of these situations.

A survey conducted in May and June and completed by almost 200 members of the Mason community revealed that nearly 90 percent of Mason faculty, staff and students who responded were interested in developing some kind of support network for Mason families.

“Based on the results of the survey, it was evident that people at Mason wanted to do something to support those who have been deployed or are returning from deployment, or families who are in this situation,” says Janet Walker, work/life and communications coordinator in HR and an MMO organizer. “We just didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do, so we developed the Mason Military Outreach for people to come together and discuss the next steps to take.”

During the Lunch and Learn, participants will assemble care packages. The Staff Senate will be collecting items from the Mason community and shipping care packages to troops serving overseas. Donations can be brought directly to the event or dropped off with a staff senator. A list of senators is online.

Susan Kehoe-Laptew, benefits accountant in HR who also helped spearhead the initiative, contacted Operation Military Pride, a volunteer organization that participates in a wide range of activities to boost the morale of troops deployed overseas. Operation Military Pride supplied Kehoe-Laptew with a list of troop names and addresses for the care packages.

In addition to the granola bars and peanut butter, some of the items that troops will receive are jelly beans, socks, baby wipes, books, DVDs, CDs and batteries.

The Lunch and Learn will also provide an opportunity for members of the Mason community to network and offer input for additional MMO programming.

“We want people to understand that this program is not anti- or pro-war,” says Stacey Remick-Simkins, program coordinator in the English Department. “It is meant to be a nonthreatening environment where Mason faculty, staff and students can gather to help address the ways in which we can help the families who are suffering.”

To register for the Lunch and Learn, visit the HR web site. For more information on what can be donated, click here.

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