Clovis, Portales groups to honor veterans

Alisa Boswell

Several events are happening in Clovis and Portales this week to honor veterans.

Today at Eastern New Mexico University, students and faculty will be donating supplies, letters and thank you cards with care packages being sent to servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to Nikki Howard of Academic Affairs, the university has been mailing care packages to military year-round since July 2008.

Howard said the project was born after she sent a care package to her son in Iraq and other faculty and staff members asked Howard if more care packages could be sent to other military members.

Howard said the packages go to troops with a servicemember who is connected with ENMU, such as ENMU alumni and family members of ENMU faculty and students.

“I think the response rate has been wonderful,” said Howard. “I’m happy we’ve been able to keep this going so long.”

Twenty-six packages have been mailed so far, with the latest one being sent Nov. 4. Howard said as long as donations continue coming in, the university will continue to send care packages to troops.

Howard said ENMU funding has never been used for the care package program. The shipping and handling for the packages is donated by the university’s president, vice presidents, deans and other staff members.

ENMU students and staff donate household supplies, such as shampoo, cleansing wipes, razors and nonperishable candy. Local residents may also donate items and letters.

ENMU students and staff will be in the Pecos room of the Campus Union Building today from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accept letters and donations.

Another school participating in Veterans Day activities is Lindsey-Steiner Elementary School in Portales. Cindy Stone, a choir and history teacher, said student and faculty members at the school began to collect donations for care packages after a school faculty member received an email about an Army platoon that lost their supplies en route to Afghanistan.

Stone said 20 classes are participating in collecting items, so school members are hopeful for a large amount of donations.

“They (students) seem to be very excited,” said Stone. “Especially when I talk to them about what veterans and the military do. I think it has helped open their eyes a little bit to the sacrifices our veterans make.”

Today at 1:30 p.m. in the gymnasium of the elementary school, students will be giving speeches on what it means to be a veteran and the history of Veterans Day. More donations will be accepted at this time.

In Clovis, a Veterans Day flag dedication ceremony is taking place at Steed-Todd Funeral Home at 3 p.m. today.

Joe Champouillon, a funeral director at Steed-Todd and former Marine Corps officer, said the staff of the funeral home had a flag pole built earlier this year to show support for U.S. veterans. Champouillon said the flag dedication ceremony is a way to further show their support of veterans.

“Veterans Day is special to a lot of us, but sometimes people forget about it,” said Champouillon. “We just wanted to bring recognition and honor to it.”

The annual Clovis Veterans Day parade is 10 a.m. Saturday.

James Walker, who has organized the parade along with John Montano, said a lot of work has gone into this year’s parade and it is expected to be bigger than in previous years.

Walker said all local veteran organizations will be involved in the event along with several civilian organizations and businesses. The parade will also include the Cannon Air Force Base color guard and a fly-by with CAFB aircraft.

“It’s always successful,” said Walker. “But we are hoping it will be an even larger turnout this year.”

The parade will be led by the NM-47A chapter of America’s Guardians motorcycle group and any other motorcyclists who wish to participate.

Mike King, secretary for the group, said any motorcycle drivers wishing to join can just show up at Marshall Junior High at 8”30 a.m. Saturday.

King said the group is currently collecting funds for the CAFB Wounded Warrior project, which will be given to the base next week. Local businesses where funds can be donated include local Suzuki and Yamaha motorcycle shops and Nuco Supplies and Tractor Supply Company in Clovis.