Date: November 20, 2008
With thoughts of spreading holiday cheer and lifting troops’ spirits in mind, the Andrews University Community and International Development Program (CID) and the Department of Social Work organized an effort to send holiday care packages to deployed Seventh-day Adventists serving in the military. Following a campus-wide call for donations, the packages were assembled and readied for shipment on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008. The packages, headed primarily to Iraq and the Horn of Africa, should be in the hands of troops no later than Christmas.
“One of the things that really impacted me was receiving care packages from family and friends,” said Chris Reyes, an Andrews University community and international development (CID) graduate research assistant, when looking back on his service in Iraq, Kuwait and Colombia. “We would also get random bulk care packages from strangers, which always helped morale and reminded us that people cared back home, regardless if we knew them or not.”
Contributions of travel-size games, snacks, pre-paid phone cards, sunscreen, holiday letters and cards were collected at the Andrews University Department of Behavioral Sciences and the Master of Science and Administration (MSA) Graduate Assistant Room for several weeks. Along with these items, over $200 in cash donations was used to help cover shipping expenses. In all, 30 packages were sent, thanks to Reyes and a package-assembly group primarily made up of MSA students in the CID Program.
The idea to support the troops developed around the beginning of the school year. Reyes served in the Air Force until July 2008 when he made the decision to attend Andrews University. While talking with his advisor, Mioara Diaconu, director of CID, Reyes was asked what could be done to help deployed military members and those returning from deployment. Retelling his comfort from receiving care packages, saying, “It is one of the easiest ways to help service members,” the idea to support Adventist troops was born.
With plans to send care packages underway, Reyes and Diaconu were able to get a list of deployed Seventh-day Adventist chaplains from the National Serviceman’s Organization in Washington, D.C. The chaplains gave them an idea of how many Adventist members were worshipping with them and informed the leaders about their specific needs. Some asked for DVD sermons of preachers such as Mark Finley, Dwight K. Nelson and Joe Rojas, etc. Others requested Sabbath School quarterlies, saying, “It is like having a piece of home with us.”
“In the end, this was an opportunity to minister to another group of people,” said Reyes.
Reyes and his team also have high hopes for the future by making this an annual event sponsored by the newly created International Development Club. They also hope to develop a database of Seventh-day Adventist military members.
-Written by Ashleigh Jardine, student news writer, Office of Integrated Marketing & Communication