Central California campuses help create 358 care packages for Remember the Troops Drive
All San Joaquin Valley College campuses have a tremendous commitment toward community support through volunteer work, fund drives and donations. The Central Valley Blue Star Moms recently benefitted from that collective spirit of giving in support of their annual Remember the Troops Care Package Drive, which is conducted nationwide.
For the last several weeks, the Fresno, Madera and Aviation campuses hosted a collection box in their front lobbies for donors to drop off snacks, various food treats, chewing gum and a few DVDs that would go into gift packages sent to military personnel stationed all over the world. The generosity of staff, faculty and students on each of the campuses contributed to over 358 care packages distributed just in time for Christmas.
“We are proud to have been a part of Central Valley Blue Star Moms’ efforts and to, hopefully, send some warmth and joy to troops serving around the globe,” says Jerry Franksen, Fresno Campus President.
Rarely, however, does SJVC get to hear back from one of the recipients of their support. Monica Van Natta, Board Secretary for the Central Valley Blue Star Moms, recently shared an email received from Staff Sergeant Javier Sanchez, U.S. Marine Corps, stationed in Iraq, who grew up in the Fresno and Visalia areas of the Central San Joaquin Valley. An excerpt from his correspondence:
“I never attend mail call because I never expect any packages. To my surprise today, there was a care package with my name on it and it was from the Central Valley. I want to thank all the staff and volunteers that took the moment to load the box with items that cannot be found over here in Iraq (it is like liquid gold).
To the kids that thought about the servicemen and women, thanks to them as well. I had a few cute little drawings and words of wisdom from my little friends back in California. One wished for me to be home with my family for Christmas and the holidays, but unfortunately this is the third Christmas that I will miss with my wife and kids, due to deployments.
It is a bit of a hardship, but I love what I do, and I will do it over and over again. I am honored to serve my fellow citizens and honored and blessed to call myself a United States Marine.”
Thousands of military service men and women receive these unexpected care packages. “We ask the public for addresses of friends and family members serving away from home during the holidays,” says Monica Van Natta, whose son is serving in the Marine Corps. “News and radio stations help us spread the word that we are looking for addresses. We focus on military members from the Central Valley.”
This is the third year SJVC’s Fresno campus has supported Remember the Troops with their on-campus collections. This is the first year both the Madera and Aviation campuses joined this cause. “The Madera and Aviation campuses joined the effort for a bigger and better year,” says Franksen. “We didn’t put a number on it (collection goal). It was a gesture to see how much we could get in the box, and the response was very touching and very meaningful to us.”
“The highlight for me, personally, is the emails, texts and photos that we get back from the troops,” says Monica. “Last year, we got the best thank-you video from some troops in (South) Korea. It is on our website: CVBlueStarMoms.org.”
“When our students learned about the thanks (from SSgt. Sanchez), some commented that they were really glad that our campus participated,” says Franksen. “They got something out of it knowing that we were able to get something to the troops. Because they are alone out there, and it was a great chance for us to support them.”
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