MOC students lead drive to send supplies to troops
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 27, 2008 2:00 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- A younger Jessica Whitley had little understanding of the war on terrorism playing out in the Middle East.
Now 20, the Mount Olive College student had just reached high school by the time the invasion of Iraq was launched -- and was even younger when NATO forces invaded Afghanistan.
"We didn't see all that was going on," she said. "I mean, we knew (our troops) were over there fighting a war, but as we got older and exposed to more and more, we saw just how bad it is over there and what they go through."
Ted Janicki is no stranger to life "over there."
The Air Force reservist once left his civilian post as an assistant professor at MOC for tours in Afghanistan where he worked to help members of the country's National Army and police secure their new state against insurgents.
So when he heard that Jessica and her peers in the college's leadership program were spearheading a drive to raise goods for the deployed, he got involved.
After all, he has seen the need firsthand.
"What's happening is, the deployments in the Middle East are being extended out," said Janicki, a captain and member of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's 916th Air Refueling Wing. "The military issues so many goods to each troop to last so long. Nowadays, deployments are expected to be four, six months. They are getting out to 12 to 18 months now so they don't have enough supplies."
And without packages like the ones the students will be sending to locations in Iraq and Afghanistan at the end of February, getting a new toothbrush or razor becomes a dangerous proposition, Janicki said.
"We have BXs at some of the big bases over there, and what has happened is it somewhat puts our troops in danger," he added. "If you're out at some little base, you have to get to these big bases to resupply. If they are coming through the postal service, it keeps our troops out of danger from having to make that extra travel."
April Stevens said the care package idea was initiated when MOC agreed to host the 12th annual Leadership-Enrichment-Achievement-Development (L.E.A.D.) conference, an event that brings leadership groups from universities across the state together for workshops and other programs.
The conference, sponsored by the North Carolina College Personnel Association, re-quires the host college to sponsor a service project.
"We were just brainstorming ideas about what we wanted our service project to be, and we started thinking about the war and the troops in Iraq," the 24-year-old student from Clinton said. "Since we have a (MOC) location at Seymour Johnson, we thought, 'Oh. We should do that. It's a good fit.'"
The drive is open to anyone with the means to donate and goods will be accepted through Feb. 22, the day before the L.E.A.D. conference.
Items needed include white athletic socks, beanie caps in dark colors, tan, black or green T-shirts, candy, power bars, deodorant, body wash, hand sanitizer, nail clippers, lip balm, toothbrushes, razors, shaving gel, flashlights, Wiley-X or ESS eyewear, 5.11 brand socks, tactical shirts and pants.
Janicki hopes the community will get involved.
After all, sending care packages isn't just about keeping American troops off the potentially dangerous streets bet-ween bases.
"Getting something from home, anything, it's the biggest morale boost you can get," he said. "Just to get something that someone back here in the United States has put time into, the smiles on troops' faces are ear to ear. It's unbelievable how much joy the smallest thing can bring to one of the troops over there."
Donations can be dropped off at Mount Olive College's Student Development Office in the Murphy Regional Center in care of Julie Beck. For more information, contact Ms. Beck at 658-7880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It really gives the troops a sense of what we're fighting for," Janicki said. "The U.S. in general, and Mount Olive specifically, have just shown so much support for the troops. It really gives you a sense that, 'Hey. We're doing something good.'"
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