Drexel’s Office of Veteran Student Services and the Drexel Veterans Task Force teamed up with the Department of Public Safety last November and December to honor military members by preparing care packages during Military Family Appreciation Month.
An annual event, the military care package drive looked different this year, according to Jane Kelly, police accreditation manager in the Department of Public Safety.
“This year, we were faced with some challenges with [Drexel’s] campus being closed, and the safety concerns of the pandemic,” Kelly said. “Needless to say, the community and the Public Safety team rallied together to make it another successful event.”
Packages full of socks, travel-sized toiletries, candies, playing cards, paper, pens, crackers, gum, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, grooming products and more were sent to 110 members of the armed forces. Many recipients were family members or friends of Drexel community members or former Drexel students.
“Many of us here in [the Department of] Public Safety reached out to our family and friends to spread the word, and the donations for our military were overwhelming,” Kelly said.
Included in many of the care packages were handmade cards and notes created by local children, Kelly said. Through the event, eight additional care packages were prepared for military canines, filled with dog shampoo, bowls and other items, some of which were provided by Drexel’s Therapy Dogs.
This year, the Public Safety team safely assembled packages while following necessary COVID-19 precautions, Kelly said. In a typical year, the annual packing event includes a large partnership between students, Drexel Veterans Task Force members, and other members of the Drexel community.
To many in Public Safety and other departments of the University, the annual military care package event is an important tradition.
“For me, personally, coming from a military family, I know the importance of receiving one of these care packages, especially around the holidays when our military men and women are away from home and their families,” Kelly said. “I currently have two nephews and a niece serving in the military. When my nephew was deployed, he would often ask us to send extra items so he [could] include those who seldom receive any mail or support from home. He made it a point to make sure no one was left out.”
A collaborative effort between students, faculty, professional staff and alumni, the military care package event demonstrates what it means to be a Drexel Dragon, fulfills the University’s mission of civic engagement and honors members of the military.
“This event has evolved over the years and some of our student-veterans who participate … often state how much it meant to them to be a recipient of a care package while serving or [being] deployed,” said Kelly.
“Many of us here in Public Safety connect closely with this particular campus goodwill mission,” Kelly said. “Several staff members are veterans, themselves, or have family members who have served or are currently serving. Chief of Police [Eileen] Behr has always been very supportive of our partnership with our Drexel military-connected community.”
Students looking to get involved with this military care package event can look for information shared by the University each year approaching the holidays. According to Kelly, several collection locations are often set up, and many volunteers are needed to pack, seal and load boxes for transport.
“It is a great event to meet fellow Drexel Dragons and show our support for our military community,” Kelly said.
Although this is event only once every year, Kelly says there are several service efforts through the Department of Public Safety that all members of the Drexel community can be a part of.
“These events include “Badges and Backpacks,” a program to supply students in the West Philadelphia community with new backpacks and school supplies; “Camp Out for Hunger,” an annual event to collect canned goods for Philabundance; “Hearts for the Families,” a collection of needed pantry items for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House; and the annual Community Day, an event providing books and DVDs for the kids and families in the West Philadelphia neighborhoods,” Kelly said. “Chief Behr encourages all of us to seek out opportunities to become involved in the community.