Students collect supplies for troops overseas


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By Billy Ludt

bludt@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

A fresh pair of socks can mean a world of difference to people serving in combat zones.

Students Serving Veterans, a student group at Austintown Fitch High School, raised a barrel-full of items that will be sent overseas to U.S. troops.

“It’s really a supportive kind of thing,” said Seth Welch, senior and president of Students Serving Veterans. “There are regular citizens who are backing what they’re doing over there.”

For about a month, the group collected travel-sized deodorants, foot powder, tissues, toothpaste, as well as tooth brushes, dental floss, lip balm, gum, mints, breath strips, earbuds, socks, small flashlights, batteries and survival bracelets.

One member of the 25-student group would sit in the high-school cafeteria every morning and collect items from fellow students.

“I think they make the larger sacrifice out of all of us,” Welch said. “If we’re not going to fight, we might as well support the ones that do. They’re fighting the good fight.”

The group will raffle off two $20 gift cards to the people who donated.

Students Serving Veterans will take stock of the items, pack them up and ship them to Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that sends care packages to U.S. troops overseas, on Wednesday.

“A lot of times when they’re over there, they’re in short supplies,” said Ken Jakubec, former school board member and an adviser for the student group.

“Sometimes they’re out in the field and they run short. Now they can take some of this stuff with them. They just can’t walk into a Giant Eagle over there and buy that stuff.

“The troops depend a lot on what is sent to them,” he said. “It’s like Christmas to them.”

Jakubec noted men serving in the Vietnam War took off their socks during breaks to keep their feet as dry as possible. While Afghanistan isn’t as rainy as Vietnam, Jakubec said having a dry pair of socks is imperative.

“That’s what carries you all over the place,” he added.

Students Serving Veterans try to do a project assisting or recognizing veterans every month. They’re currently working with the Purple Star program, a group of students whose parents serve in the armed forces, and plan to become more involved with area veterans groups.

“They’re not so much about raising funds for veterans, as they might raise funds for something they’re going to do for veterans,” Jakubec said. “They’re there to help veterans – to serve them.”

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