Thousands of soldiers will spend the upcoming holiday season this year deployed overseas, without the comfort of their friends and family. To address this issue, Grand Valley State University’s Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) sent reminders of home to some of those soldiers with its first annual “Sister’s for Soldiers” event.
The members of the Lambda Eta chapter of AOII opened the sorority house Tuesday, Nov. 15 for the event.
The sisters provided a baked goods buffet and invited organizations and individuals to donate items to make care packages for soldiers deployed overseas. These included recreational items like books, candy and college-themed T-shirts, among other reminders of home soldiers often long for.
“We wanted to do it around this time with the goal that all items collected will be delivered before the holidays,” said Claire Efting, philanthropy chair of AOII. “That way, the brave men and women who are defending our freedom right now are able to have a little bit of happiness and care from all that they’re protecting back home.”
In addition to collecting items to send in care packages, attendees created handmade and personalized notes to send deployed soldiers.
“We hope that by giving just a little of what we have, we will make their day,” said Annalee Kuhr, activities chair and song leader. “Even just spending a little time to make cards makes their holidays better.”
“AOII has always committed itself to service around the world,” Efting said. “We believe that our sisterhood is a gift. We have to give that gift back to our community, and in the form of service is the best way to do it.”
As this was the first time the sisters hosted the event, Efting said the turnout exceeded her expectations with nearly 100 people attending. The event ended with enough donations to send multiple care packages to soldiers.
In order to get other students and organizations involved in the “Sisters for Soldiers” event, AOII offered $100 to the group that donated the most items toward their philanthropy of choice.
The winner of Tuesday’s event was Gamma Phi Beta.
“It’s a cause that everyone can relate to,” Kuhr said. “We want GVSU as a whole to get involved in this as much as they can.”
Kuhr said AOII hopes to continue to grow the “Sisters for Soldiers” event as long as it is necessary, while there are still soldiers deployed overseas.
In addition, the “Sisters for Soldiers” event worked to bring GVSU organizations together for the same patriotic cause. Efting said this was especially important in the time following the 2016 election, whereas many people were left feeling “unpatriotic” as a result.
“I know some of the events of last Tuesday left some Americans, and my fellow colleagues at GVSU kind of lacking some patriotism,” Efting said. “I’m hoping this event can help to restore that and remind everyone that as Americans we all stick together and have a common cause.”
“They fight for our freedom, they’re the reason that we have all the freedoms we do in this country,” Kuhr said. “So especially during the holiday time, it’s nice to give them a piece of home and something to comfort them while they’re away.”