By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
A group of Eastern New Mexico University employees are reaching out to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan — especially those who have ties to the university.
The offices of academic affairs and academic services have started a care package campaign to let the troops know they haven’t been forgotten.
“It’s just a way of telling them ‘thank you’,” said Nikki Howard, ENMU executive secretary to the vice president for academic affairs.
Program administrators need help in the form of money or product donations, but also with information regarding troops that have ties to ENMU.
Information needed includes names, name of unit commander and unit mailing address.
“We’re trying to get out the word,” Howard said. “It could be an employee, it could be the child of an employee, a spouse, an alumni, somebody who has graduated from Eastern — it could be anyone who has a tie to Eastern.”
The idea for the program started while Howard was getting a package ready for her son, who is currently serving in Iraq.
“I was preparing a box for my son who is stationed in Iraq,” Howard said. “Some of the ladies across the hall saw me doing that and they wondered if we could do that for some of the other (troops) who are over there.”
“It really came about because of the connection with Nikki’s son,” said Rene Neely, ENMU assistant vice president for academic affairs. “She talked about sending packages and folks were just talking one day and started talking about doing it for others in his troop, because not everybody has family connected to them like that and it just grew out from there.”
Four packages have been mailed since July 3 — one to Afghanistan and three to Iraq. Howard hopes to ship several more in the near-future.
“It’s very important,” Howard said. “When (her son) got his package, he said the guys were so excited to go through it and pick out things that they could use. I make homemade jerky for him and he’s like, ‘send all the jerky you can.’ And I’m like, ‘yeah, I’ll go get a cow.’”
“As long as we’re getting donations (and) names and addresses to send them to, we will do it,” Howard said.
“We’ve been pleased with the response that we’ve had,” Neely said. “We’re just willing to keep sending as long as people are still donating.”
Drop boxes are located throughout the ENMU campus, including locations at academic affairs, human resources, Golden Library and ENMU’s physical plant.
“They love anything from home,” Howard said. “It just makes them feel like they’re appreciated and that people haven’t forgotten that they’re over there.”