Mortar Board gives to troops

by Tara Millspaugh

The holidays are all about being with family: However, thousands of military service members deployed around the world, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, will not be coming home for the holidays.

This holiday season the San Diego State Chapter of Mortar Board, an honor society, is conducting a service project called “Stocking Stuffers for Troops” and is collecting donations from the SDSU community.

SDSU Mortar Board recognizes college students are on a tight budget; so the less expensive the item, the better. Some items recommended are handwritten letters, campus photos, batteries and boot socks.

The SDSU Mortar Board co-chair of philanthropy and ISCOR senior, Robert O’Berg, encouraged letters from students containing information about SDSU.

“The effort is just to reach out and make a connection with someone,” O’Berg said.

He said many deployed men and women seek a college education after service, and providing them with a pamphlet about SDSU’s admission process may be a goal they can strive to achieve.

Other requested items include travel-sized hygiene products, iTunes gift cards, calling cards, crossword puzzles, cards, dice and hard candy.

Once all items are collected, SDSU Mortar Board will take the bundle to the USS Midway. O’Berg said the USS Midway started the collection drive for deployed troops in early 2003. Last year, the goal was to get enough donations to fill 50 stockings. This year, the goal is 100. According to O’Berg, it will easily exceed this goal.

The reason Mortar Board and USS Midway have started the collections early is that the process of gathering, checking and dispersing the items to the troops who deploy from Miramar can take as long as two months. Therefore, collecting early allows troops to receive their stockings by the winter holidays.

“Deployment is already stressful enough, compound that with the separation of being away from loved ones especially during the holiday season,” O’Berg said. “Regardless of what your religious affiliations are, everybody gets homesick.”

In 2005, O’Berg deployed to Iraq with the Marine Corps and received a care package containing a used Nintendo Game Boy. The children’s toy kept him busy during times of boredom. Years later, that care package has left a lasting impact on O’Berg.

The San Diego community has expressed interest in getting involved but participation on campus has been lacking. The honor society tried to reach out to Aztec Shops for support but was turned away.

Aztec Shops director of campus relations and commercial development, R.D. Williams, wrote in an email that the “long-standing policy is not to get involved in any solicitation unless it directly benefits the students, faculty and staff of San Diego State.”

Because the donations will not directly impact the SDSU community, Aztec Shops cannot promote the service project.

Currently, there are three collection points on campus: Administration building 201, Student Services West 1575 and the Student Veterans House on 55th Street and Hardy Avenue. All donations are accepted and welcome until Friday.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email