NEWPORT, R.I. – As part of a service project, sociology students in Mea Simanski’s intro class at Salve Regina University will assemble about 250 Christmas care packages and ship them to U.S. Navy sailors stationed aboard the USS Cole, the guided-missile destroyer currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea.
The students are launching a campaign to collect gift donations and will assemble the packages all on the same day, Thursday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the State Dining Room of Ochre Court, 100 Ochre Point Ave. Members of the Salve Regina University community and the general public are invited to drop off gift items (see suggested list below) throughout the day.
Note cards and paper will be available for people to hand-write personalized thank-you messages for the service personnel, and student volunteers will individually assemble the 250 boxes for shipment. Representatives from the U.S. Navy War College have been invited to assist with the care packages project.
Simanski, adjunct professor of sociology and anthropology, and her students are working directly with LTJG Briana Wildemann, a 2005 Middletown High School graduate who is currently serving as the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Officer aboard the USS Cole.
“This service learning project is a great way to give back to the men and women serving our country,” said Casey Ansaldi, a freshman in Simanski’s “Sociological Imagination” class. “It’s hard for them to be away from their families during the holiday, and hopefully these care packages will make them smile.”
Ansaldi’s classmate, Marlisa Larkin agreed. “This small task we are doing, each taking time to make one small donation, will make a huge impact on service members who have already done so much for us … strangers helping strangers to show how a little bit can go a long way.”
Current students at Middletown High School will also be collecting items for the care packages on Dec. 3-5 in the school’s lobby at 130 Valley Road. Those items will be brought over to Salve Regina on Thursday, Dec. 6 for packaging.
This isn’t the first year Simanski and her students have sent care packages to active military personnel overseas. Last year, students sent care packages to U.S. Marines deployed in an undisclosed location; in 2010, they sent care packages to soldiers serving in Afghanistan for the holidays; and in 2009, students worked with local disabled adults to create care packages for soldiers serving in Iraq.
“My sociology students have studied humans in social contexts extensively for the last three months and were able to quickly embrace this service project,” Simanski said. “They were able to discuss the sociological concepts of anomie and isolation that might arise when human rituals of celebration and familial social bonds are disrupted by extended deployment during the holiday season.”
Suggested items for donation include:
Healthy snacks (Granola, breakfast bars, dried fruit, etc)
Candy (gummy bears, sweedish fish, peanut butter M&Ms, mini-size candy bars, etc)
Sun flower seeds
VIA Starbucks coffee packs
Microwave food (Ramen, easy-mac, popcorn, etc.)
Crystal light/propel drink packs
Jerky and slim jims
Coffee and flavored creamers
Smell good lotions
Easy floss sticks
Fun nail polish
Chap stick/lip balm
Hand sanitizer (standard and/or fruity smelling)
Black boot socks
Air fresheners (not requiring plug in)
Laundry detergent packets (non liquid)
Blue Hanes T-Shirts
Holiday gear (Christmas, New Years)
Stationary and stamps
Sudoku and cross word books
Hand and feet warmers
Black ear warmer
Gift cards (Amazon, iTunes, GNC, VISA pre-paid, etc.)