By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer
As the holidays approach, the Washington College Veterans Association and Vice President of Budget & Auxiliary Services Laura Johnson collaborated to send out Troop Packages for the Holidays.
According to the email sent by Johnson on Nov. 11, WC Veterans Association asked for items such as toiletries; stationery; hats; gloves; scarves; magazines; playing cards; greeting cards; baked goods such as cookies and cakes; dry goods such as boxed mac and cheese, oatmeal, chex mix, trail mix, fiber bars, dried fruit, and candy; sun screen; and letters of gratitude. Donations are open until Tuesday, Nov. 30.
The Holiday Troop Package project was originally initiated in 2014 by Johnson as a personal project.
“My son had been deployed for some time and I — along with my family — was having a very hard time not seeing him during holidays or on special occasions,” Johnson said. “My family and I decided to send him, and the members of his troop, packages. We then decided to coordinate an effort with the College and community to send other troops overseas packages as well.”
The WC Veterans Association got involved with this project when the organization was established by alumni and former Public Safety Officer Vernon “Gene” Davis III ’17 to support military families and students in the Chestertown area.
According to the WC website, Davis, who grew up in the Chestertown area, joined the Army, First Cavalry Division, after Sept. 11, 2001.
After his deployment, he applied and worked as a Public Safety Officer at WC where he studied part-time to receive his degree in American studies.
By 2015, according to an interview with Johnson in the Kent County News, the WC Veterans Association grew to encourage the surrounding community to donate items to help support military families both within and out of the WC community.
In years past, packages were sent to the Middle East and Europe. However, destinations are never the same thanks to the help of the Veteran of Foreign Wars Post and American Legion, which help identify troops to send care packages to.
“We also solicit input from the campus community for loved ones that are deployed and have sent them packages as well,” Johnson said.
This effort is supported entirely by the volunteers from the WC Veterans Association as well as faculty, staff, students and local veterans who help, collect items, and pack the boxes.
Staff, such as former Director of Public Safety Brandon McFayden and member of Utility Services Jeffrey Mullikin, have been involved in years past with this effort, according to Johnson.
Johnson said that there used to be a great deal of student involvement with the project; however, because of COVID-19, student involvement declined.
“We would love for student veterans or students who are a part of a military family, or any student who has interest, to become involved,” Johnson said.
The project has filled over 150 Army Post Office boxes for deployed troops around the world, according to Johnson.
“I believe the annual troop package drive is an important effort and shows our commitment to our military families,” Johson said. “I know firsthand the sacrifices that are made for both the active military members and their families, and it is very difficult to have a child or loved one in the military.”
Photo by Grace Hazlehurst
Featured Photo Caption: One of the Troop Packages Donation Box sits in Hodson Hall Commons in front of the Egg. Students could donate until Tuesday, Nov. 30.