It could not be more appropriate timing for Liz Arpin and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club. With Veterans Day still fresh in everyone’s minds, the club is running a donation drive to compile care packages to send overseas to a unit stationed in Afghanistan that will arrive around Christmas time.
“The holidays are coming up and they’re not going to be home for any of them. A lot of them don’t get mail from home,” Arpin said. “It’s really just a big thank-you for what they do, and here’s a little piece of home for them.”
Arpin, a sophomore member of FCA, originally came up with the idea during a routine stroll to the school’s post office with friend and fellow FCA member Veronica Cirrincione.
Arpin is engaged to her fiancé Mitchell Correa, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army overseas in Bahrain, an island off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. She was headed to the post office to pick up a box for a personal care package that she sends to Correa every few weeks to keep his spirits up. Cirrincione began asking Arpin questions about Correa and his unit, and as the two parted ways, remarked something along the lines of, “It would be cool if we could send them some packages for the holidays,” according to Arpin.
That comment stuck with Arpin and got her mind racing. What was stopping them from supporting the troops with little packages and notes of encouragement?
The simple answer was nothing. Arpin got to work, enlisting the help of the FCA club to begin planning a donation drive. The club held their first collection day on Tuesday from 12-1 in the Richard B. Flynn Campus Union, and will have two more designated days, tonight (Thursday, Nov. 14) from 7-8:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 12-1 p.m. A table will be set up in the Union on both days.
The packages will be sent to one of Correa’s best friends, Joey Espada, and his unit that is stationed in Afghanistan. When Arpin proposed the idea to her fiancé, he suggested that Espada’s unit could use the support even more. For a man who has already chosen to sacrifice so much for his country, the gesture solidified what kind of men and women are serving bravely overseas.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to drop off a number of items, including but not limited to: razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Kleenex (travel size), shampoo and conditioner (travel size), lip balm, non-perishable food (protein bars, ramen, mac-and-cheese, pudding packs, popcorn, etc.), socks and more. A complete list can be found on fliers placed around the campus.
It may not be the season of giving yet, but the importance of supporting U.S. troops is never limited to a particular time of year.
“The fact that people are thinking about them and are recognizing that they’re out there sacrificing everything that they have is really important,” Arpin said. “I think it means a lot.”
What might seem like a list of underappreciated foods and supplies can actually be a huge morale booster, according to Arpin, who has been in a long distance relationship with Correa for around two years and knows how excited he gets when he receives her packages.
“They [the troops] get into a really bad place sometimes because they don’t think anyone cares. It helps pull them out of that,” Arpin said.
In addition to the donations, Arpin and FCA will be selling packaged baked goods at their table, such as cookies and donuts, to help pay for the shipping fees for the packages. For Arpin, the drive has personal meaning because it is something that hits close to home.
“It’s really hard on both ends. You don’t get to see your loved one for seven, eight, nine months out of the year. When you do, it’s only for like two weeks,” Arpin said. “To be able to give to them and just [let] know that, ‘I’m here, I’m supporting you,’ even though it isn’t the most ideal situation, it’s one that I care about and support.”
A small donation is one way that people on the campus of Springfield College can give back to those that have given everything to serve this country.
If you cannot make the donation times, contact Liz Arpin at firstname.lastname@example.org to drop off additional supplies.