Soldiers send gratitude for holiday drive

Random acts of kindness aren’t done for anything in return, as those who donated more than 2,000 hygiene products to Phi Kappa Psi’s holiday drive for soldiers fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom showed. But four months later, donors received a heartfelt “thank you.”

Recipients of the more than 300 pounds of goods were from the 555th Combat Support Brigade. Their responses to the basic necessities – including soap, razors and shampoo – and the accompanying cards from students, reflected their gratitude.

The soldiers commented on the improved morale the letters and support from civilians inspired.

“The fact that we are being shown your support helps us remember what we are fighting for,” Private First Class Ryan Nelson wrote.

One anonymous letter read, “There are still soldiers out here who do not get much support from their own families and when they receive a gift package from a solid supporter of the troops it is very reassuring and comforting.”

Another thank-you note was addressed to “the greatest people in the world,” and said, “You have brought our morale factor up more than you will ever know . your support is greatly appreciated.”

One of the College’s own, Cadet Sgt. First Class Duane Clark, junior history major, said, “It really amazed me how much these packages meant, and these letters truly touched me.”

The drive, from Nov. 14-23, permitted the goods to be delivered to the soldiers during the holiday season.

This was the fraternity’s second annual Vincent M. Sullivan Memorial Drive, but the first time it heard back from the troops.

The drive began in 2004, in memoriam of Phi Kappa Psi member Brian Sullivan’s brother, who graduated in 2005. Vincent M. Sullivan, was a Marine stationed in Iraq who was killed on July 23, 2004, at the age of 23.

“We wanted to honor and remember Vincent while at the same time helping all those brave soldiers serving overseas, who risk their lives everyday in order to protect our freedom,” Dave Nash, senior finance major and Phi Kappa Psi member, said.

Nash said the fraternity plans to hold the drive again this Nov. and said he hopes that every year the number of donations will grow. In 2005, the fraternity had hoped to collect around 1,000 hygiene products but around 3,500 were actually donated.

“Phi Kappa Psi was extremely pleased with the support that we received from other organizations, our relatives and friends, as we feel that we truly made an impact upon our soldiers,” Nash said.