christmas-in-a-shoebox being filled by volunteers

Well, that went well!

With the holiday season approaching, Moraine Park wanted to give back and show support for the men and women who are serving our country overseas.

In order to make their time a little more enjoyable away from home this holiday season, students and staff from Moraine Park’s Beaver Dam campus conducted a “Christmas in a Shoebox” drive (all donations – deodorant, eye drops, candy, snacks, books, movies, etc. – had to be small enough to fit inside a shoebox). The drive was organized by the Beaver Dam Student Senate, and roughly 100 different students helped at various points of the project.

In previous years, our record for overall donations was 35 boxes. This year, we aimed higher – hoping to gather enough for 50 boxes of donated items.

Turns out, we ended up with 140 boxes worth of donations, and we’re so thankful for everyone who made this record-breaking collection possible for our troops!

We certainly didn’t do it alone. (To see more photos from the event, click here)

Help is on the way!

Literally thousands of items poured in from community members, staff and students. Then we packaged it all on Wednesday, Nov. 9. Again, students, faculty, community members and organizations chipped in. In particular, we received some awesome help from Bright Futures of Beaver Dam, an organization that provides employment solutions for people with disabilities.

And now that everything is packaged, how we’ll be getting the boxes to the troops is worth mentioning, too.30583329220_db4cab4e0d_z

LeAnn Boudwine and Support the Troops WI of Hartford, which helps send care packages to military members, have stepped up in a big way. They initially agreed to ship all of our boxes when we thought we would get roughly 50 care packages. With 140 in hand, they’re still going to ship everything even though we greatly exceeded our projections.

“The fact that we not only met the goal, but surpassed it, is exciting because it means that more members of our military will know that we are thinking of them and thankful for them this holiday season,” said Lisa Manuell, lead – Student Life at Moraine Park.

“Exceeding our goal would not have been possible without all of the community members, faculty, staff, students and clubs who donated, sorted, counted and packed items. Without all hands on deck, this project would just not have been possible or successful. This was a true collaboration; so I’m especially appreciative of the project co-sponsors: my students (members of the Beaver Dam Student Senate), SVA, and Bright Futures of BD as well as Support our Troops.”

Hitting home

Speaking from experience, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Pepper, U.S. Army (Ret) and Moraine Park’s Student Veteran Specialist, said these care packages mean a lot to those who receive them.

“Personally, I loved getting care packages while I was deployed and like many other service members deployed we often have many days or weeks idleness or the complete opposite, with many mission days running into each other. So getting these packages are a great moral booster and also provide a feeling of acceptance,” Pepper said.

“Most of those deployed receive items from their families. But to get something from an organized group lets them know that those outside the family circle cared enough to spend time, money and effort collecting items to be shipped to someone they don’t even know. There’s also an opportunity to spread the wealth because many times we would take to items to share items with the local population.

30249014793_e7c620b902_z“We would often take candy, stuffed animal, small toys and canned goods on our patrols to share, especially with the children.”

Moraine Park staff and faculty who also have sons and daughters overseas who may need this morale booster, were profoundly thankful for everyone’s efforts in making this year’s “Christmas in a Shoebox” event so overwhelmingly successful.

“I would like to say thank you to all who participated. As a proud father with a son currently deployed, this is very close to home. It is very reassuring to them that the very people they have taken an oath to protect have them in their thoughts, and support them, no matter where the mission takes them,” said Jay Peartree, Fire Training Instructor.

“I also have a son deployed and, as a mother, I also appreciate the kind acts, thoughts and prayers that are offered for our service men and women,” said Michele Mengert, nursing instructor.

More to come

This event was part of our College’s “Year of the Student Veteran. There’s much more to come! For more information, click here.

And for more information on Moraine Park’s veteran services and offerings, visit morainepark.edu/veterans.

Andrew Pantzlaff
Written by Andrew Pantzlaff

Public Relations Specialist.
Lover of pizza.