Care Packages for Soldiers in the Middle East

Banner Elk, NC--In the spirit of helping others, the Lees-McRae Women's Soccer Team took it upon themselves to organize sending care packages to U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East. The idea of sending these boxes to the troops overseas originated from Sophomore Lauren McLelland. Lauren lost a very close friend in October 2006, who was on his second tour of duty in the Middle East. Lauren has a number of other friends and family members currently on their third and fourth tours. Lauren McLelland added "sending packages to our troops was very special to me. I have a lot of friends and family overseas and they constantly talk about how much they appreciate the support."

Each member of the team purchased a number of items that were pre-approved by the United States Government to be shipped overseas. Practical everyday items such as shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes were placed in the care packages. Magazines, candy, crossword puzzles and a variety of other items were added to give the soldiers something to just simply enjoy. Shopping for the items proved to be meaningful experience for the players. "I enjoyed shopping for them; it was exciting to think what they would want and need," stated Sophomore Aerial Gregston.

Every member of the Lees-McRae Women's Soccer Team included a handwritten letter to a soldier. As the players sat down to write the letters, the room was filled with emotion. Junior Colleen Paxton said, "As I wrote I found myself pouring into the letters and that made writing and sending them all the more special to me, like there was a connection between the mystery soldier who received it and me."

Many of the Lees-McRae players know someone who is serving in the armed forces in the Middle East and want to help other troops. Freshman Martha Peacock remarked, "It's impossible to say thank you to every single solider, so making the care packages was just a small and enjoyable way for us to show our appreciation to our soldiers."

After all the care packages were labeled and sealed for shipping, everyone in the room was filled with a sense of excitement for the packages to be opened. Many wondered and hoped that the items in the care packages would bring a little joy and sense of encouragement for their work overseas. Sophomore Abby White quoted, "It was really something special for me because everyone in the service is my hero. I think sending them packages and encouraging letters really makes them feel like they are not taken for granted and are respected through their hard times trying to keep our country safe and free."

"It is great to see our student-athletes looking beyond themselves to help these soldiers," stated Head Coach Renee Lopez. "Most of these soldiers are the same age as our student-athletes and we should honor them for making huge sacrifices and risking their lives every day to serve our country. I commend our players for coming up with the idea of the project and coming together as a team to make a difference in their lives."

The Lees-McRae College Women's Soccer Team and coaching staff appreciate the work of all the soldiers in the armed forces and pray for their quick and safe return home. They received a message from one of the soldier's parents that the troops were elated to receive the boxes filled with love and encouragement.