TCNJ STRONG is a fairly new club on campus, formed last February. STRONG (Supporting our Troops, Reaching those Overseas, Now and Going) was founded by sophomore Melissa Hoydis, current president of the organization. STRONG reaches out to the men and women in the armed forces stationed all over the world.
The club began when Hoydis, who comes from a military family, realized the impact her letters from home had on her cousin when he was away from home as a member of the Marine Corps.
“He told me that my letters were what helped him get through boot camp,” she said. That, according to Hoydis, is what launched the club, which now has about 15 members.
Last Wednesday, Norsworthy Hall’s main lounge was a sea of candy, crackers, gum, deodorant, shampoo, magazines and playing cards. During the meeting, the club prepared boxes to send to seven men and women serving overseas.
“We want you to know more than just the names of the soldiers,” Hoydis said. Students participating in the club are also given the opportunity to write letters to soldiers stationed overseas.
“The letters mean so much to these guys. Even just one letter counts,” Hoydis said.
The club remains neutral in terms of a political stance on the current war.
“When we think about the war, many of us only see in black and white. We are either for or against it,” Hoydis said. “But we forget about the most important part, and that is the troops who are defending us.”
Members of the club are hoping more students will join, but appreciate the efforts of those who have already contributed and helped assemble packages for soldiers.
“Keep your eyes out for fundraisers,” club treasurer Dan Quinn said.
Right now, member dues are funding the club. STRONG has also raised money “canning,” or asking for donations outside of large retail stores. The club anticipates receiving money from the Student Finance Board in the future, as most clubs do after a successful initial semester.
“It’s the things we take so much for granted, such as chocolate chip cookies or Propel, that they miss the most,” Hoydis said. “We just want to make sure as many troops as possible receive these packages.”