Supporting the Troops With Care Packages

Care packages ready to be shipped to deployed cadets and graduates of The Citadel.
The Citadel Heroes Project. Care packages ready to be shipped to deployed cadets and graduates of The Citadel.

We are approaching Thanksgiving time, and the time to send care packages to troops for the holidays.

At The Citadel a great volunteer effort was started several years ago to send boxes to deployed cadets and graduates, The Citadel Heroes Project.

I’ve written about this effort before. The time to send donations for their holiday mailing is now. Susie Maghakian of the Krause Leadership Center on campus is the staff coordinator for the project. Theresa Chamberlain is the parent of a graduate and is the current volunteer coordinator of the program.

For a list of suggested items you can visit the Citadel Family Association page for the project, just note that the contact information is out of date for Susie.

Please send your donations of items for the boxes, or a check for the postage made out to The Citadel Heroes Project, to:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 171 Moultrie Street, The Citadel Station, Charleston, SC  29409

or if you are sending items via UPS or other carrier use the physical address on campus:

Susie Maghakian, Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, 201 Richardson Ave, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409

Phone: 843-953-5815

People always ask what should be included in care packages. A general rule is not to send items that have a short shelf life. Mail can be delayed and items like home-baked good soften arrived spoiled.

If you Google “what to send a deployed soldier” quite a few sites with suggestions will pop up. Give 2 the Troops is one of many sites you will find that offer a list of items. I’ll include a few suggestions here, but please note this list is not exhaustive. If you know the person you are sending items to, ask them what they would like and would appreciate. Some units have ready access to day to day items, others do not.

Saran Wrap: I have recently learned that including a roll of saran wrap in a care package could help save a soldier’s life. In a recent email from a Citadel grad who is working as a contractor in Afghanistan he wrote: “Its use would be as an emergency field medical expedient dressing to wrap hastily around the chest of a torso-wounded teammate to prevent death by ‘sucking chest wound.’  Some SF medics I work with have recommended this technique.  I’m sure it would have other practical uses as well.”

Snacks: Individual packets of trail mix and nuts, granola bars, protein bars, breakfast bars, fruit leather, jerky, hard candy, chewing gum, small packets of cookies, individual serving containers of noodles. If they have access to a microwave the individual meals are great.

Beverage powder: Individual drink packets to be added to water – all flavors; hot chocolate packets; instant coffee; powdered creamer

Sauces: Dipping sauces from your local fast food store; hot sauces

Non food items: soft toilet paper, baby wipes, Q-Tips, in the winter month hand warmers, disposable razors, feminine hygiene products-if you know there are women in the unit

Personal care items (do not include in the same box as food): shampoo, shaving cream in squeeze tubes, liquid body soap, deodorant, sun screen

Homemade goodies: Cake in a Jar. You can find several recipes for this online. See this link for one recipe.

Other items: School supplies, like pencils, paper, crayons. These items are given to the local school children; wrapped candies

Socks, Underwear, T-Shirts : If you know the soldier and their sizes these items are appreciated. Covert Threads is a great resource for good socks for soldiers. THey have a buy 10 get three free policy which makes the socks even more affordable. It is a great option for groups sending items out.

Packing tips:

Take items and individual packets out of the box they came in and put them in a zip lock bag. You can fit more in a care package this way and the ziplock bag can be used for other things once the solder has the box. Plus, they have to burn their trash.

Do not mix scented items with food items.

If you try to send home-baked goods vacuum pack them.

Add some fun items like a deck of cards, photos of friends and family, letters and drawings from children, fun toys from the dollar store to blow off steam

I'm inventorying the supplies before packing them for shipping. Note the packets of oatmeal and breakfast bars (on the left side of hte photo) are repacked into ziplock bags. THe cardboard wrapping on the socks was removed before shipping them to Afghanistan. The clothing items were packed in vacuum bags so help get more into the boxes. photo by Stanley Leary
I’m inventorying the supplies before packing them for shipping. Note the packets of oatmeal and breakfast bars (on the left side of the photo) are repacked into ziplock bags. The cardboard wrapping on the socks was removed before shipping them to Afghanistan. The clothing items were packed in vacuum bags so help get more into the boxes.
photo by Stanley Leary

The United States Postal Service has a great webpage with instructions on how to ship to APO/FPO/DPO addresses.

See this list from the USPS of items not to send.

Several organizations support the troops year round. I will list a few here that I have contacted myself:

Military Families Ministries

Operation Gratitude

Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes


Supporting Cadets Through Philanthropic Giving

Friday parade
Friday parade

I am often asked about how to help cadets at The Citadel who have unmet financial needs. The Citadel Foundation has quite a few avenues available for anyone who would like to help.  I asked Lori Tuttle of the foundation office to send along the names of few funds that would directly impact cadets. This is not a complete list. If you have a specific interest I encourage you to call the foundation offices.

Of course donating to an unrestricted fund like The Citadel Fund is always welcomed. The description of the fund can be found on the Donate Now webpage:

The Citadel Fund offers every member of the college’s family an opportunity to support and enrich student life. Unrestricted gifts have an immediate and enduring impact on campus priorities.  By giving to The Citadel Fund, each donor helps to address the college’s most urgent needs, providing the flexibility to support its most critical objectives.

Gifts to The Citadel Fund continue the college’s longstanding tradition of providing cadets and graduate students with an exceptional education in a disciplined environment, deep bonds and lasting friendships, and above all, the ability and confidence to face whatever challenges come their way.

Every dollar makes a difference, every day, in the lives of each cadet and graduate student on campus.

I’ll post a few of the many cadet related Funds here. Each department on campus, as well as special interests, have funds to which you may contribute.

Go to The Citadel Foundation page and click on the red Donate Now button. To find cadet related funds enter “Cadet” in the “Fund Description” search window, or “Academic” for various related funds. You can also select a department or office from the department drop down menu to see the funds available in each department.

The highlighted names below will bring you to the donation page for that fund.

1.       Commandant of Cadets Discretionary Fund

a.       Provides ongoing resources for the Commandant’s department.

2.       Cadet Relief Fund

Provides financial resources to respond to ongoing requests from students who display immediate financial need.  Preference is given to applicants who, without aid, could not remain enrolled through graduation.

3.       Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics

The Krause Center of Leadership and Ethics coordinates, promotes, and enhances the development of curricular and co-curricular programs in leadership and ethics that support The Citadel’s vision to lead in the development of principled leaders.

4.       Academic Endowment

The Academic Endowment Fund plays a critical role in underwriting academic programs at the college. Each year, a distribution of the Academic Endowment Fund is made to the college for academic enrichment opportunities for faculty and students.  A gift to the Academic Endowment can provide funding for:

  1. Research and teaching support for faculty
  2. Academic program enhancement
  3. Technology upgrades and improvements
  4.  Recruitment and retention of students

5.       Career Center Fund

Supports career planning and expanding preparation programs and services provided to cadets, CGC students, and alumni of The Citadel.

6.       Cadet Activities Fund

The Cadet Activities department is dedicated to providing a rich and robust college experience to all cadets. Through an exciting array of programs and events, cadets are encouraged to socialize, donate their time, experience cultural events, participate in clubs and much more. All of this is oriented to rounding out the education of cadets and helping develop principled leaders for our nation.

A rather new fund is the Palmetto Ring Fund. From the donation web site:

Each year, The CAA is approached by senior cadets, parents, or others to ask for assistance in purchasing their Citadel Ring. With the current cost of a Citadel Ring exceeding $1,000.00, affordability has become an area of concern. Confirmation of need varies on a case-by-case basis. The CAA then reaches out to local clubs to help raise the money to assist the cadet in purchasing the Ring. The CAA cannot predict the sustainability of any external, private efforts, thus we cannot plan for those to cover all cadet shortfalls. When all of these efforts have been exhausted, The CAA has purchased a ring using general funds. As the need for assistance has grown, so has the need to create a more formalized process for approving, funding, and accounting for these Rings and their recipients.

The Summerall Guards and other groups also have a fund you can support. They rely on your support to help with their expenses.

To see if there is a fund for a group you would like to support, just enter a word into the “Fund Description” search window.

Many people ask, why give? The following is an answer to that question provided by The Citadel Foundation on their webpage titled Why Give?

The Citadel’s mission is to educate and develop its students to become principled leaders in all walks of life by instilling core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in a disciplined and intellectually challenging environment.

Accomplishing this mission will require substantial additional resources, together with a continued commitment to efficiency, a focus on top priorities, and a determination to work hard. Gifts from individuals, companies, and organizations provide resources that will be used to recruit and retain outstanding students and professors, provide them with state-of-the-art technology and facilities, and enrich campus life through athletic and cultural activities.

Remember, if you have any questions, contact The Citadel Foundation staff.

Navigating The Citadel Website

A beautiful Fall day at The Citadel
A beautiful Fall day at The Citadel

This blog began in the Fall of 2011. My oldest son graduated from The Citadel in May of 2011. After chairing the Georgia Citadel Parents Group for three years as well as serving as the Area Rep coordinator for the Citadel Family Association for a couple of years, I accumulated quite a bit of helpful information for parents. A blog seemed like a great place to post this information so any searching for Citadel related topics could find the information. The initial information was taken form the document I used to share with Georgia parents which is also on the CFA website under CFA Benefits titled “Survival Tips.”

After I posted the initial information I did not visit the blog site for about six months. When I did check on the stats for the site, it turned out some days the blog had over 300 hits. Then emails began coming in from parents of incoming cadets. That is when I posted a Facebook group for Parents of the Class of 2016. There is now a group for Parents of the Class of 2017.

The intent of these groups is to help families prepare for knob year and teach them how to find information on the school website. Ideally, after knob year, each parent will learn the ins and outs of the cadet year. After knob year the groups for parents become a place for the parents to post photos, and share stories.

As with many sites that post information, some readers would rather request the answers from a fellow parent instead of learning how to find the answers. The groups are manned by parents of graduates. It is important to note these parents volunteer their time. All of the parents of graduates had to learn about the 4th class system on their own. There were no Facebook groups in 2007 and most of 2008. The goal of these groups is to teach new parents how to find information on their own so they will no longer need help from the volunteers.

The first tip for new parents is this, The Citadel is a military college. The cadets are to learn to handle their own affairs. Parents are needed for support, but should not try to “fix” any problems.

Parents should encourage the cadet to seek solutions on their own. If a problem arises a knob should use their chain of command to find answers. If it is an academic problem, speaking to their professor, then the academic support office is what they should be encouraged to do.

If it is a matter a cadet does not want to share with their chain of command several resources on campus exist and can be found on the H.E.L.P. web page.

The second big tip for new parents is to use the search window on the web site. Just about everything you need to know as a parent can be found in this way. I will list the top web pages parents should read below.

Remember, the links may change from year to year. If you enter the name of what you are looking for into the search window on the main web site you should find the current link.

You can also go to the webpage the school put together called simply, Parents.

A-Z Sitemap – Use this link to see an alphabetical listing of various departments on campus.

Annual Events page – includes information for the big weekends including Matriculation Day

Cadet Activities – This office handles the details for the knob’s trip tot he beach, Ring Ceremony schedule, Cookies for knobs program, Host families.

Citadel Family Association – A volunteer group of parents that help with Matriuclaiton Day. They also have company and area reps as well as the Nice to Have List for knobs

Information Technology – this page includes computer recommendations and IT support information

New Cadet Information – Part of the Academic Affairs page – lists helpful informaitn for new cadets and includes links for Parents

Office of the Commandant – a great page to book mark.

Parade schedule is listed under the Visitor tab on the home page

People Search – Enter the name of your cadet, faculty or staff member to see their contact information, including their campus mailing address.

Success Packet – Includes the items each incoming knob must ring with them on Matriculation Day.

You can also use the search window on this blog to find information I’ve posted on a variety of subjects, including what moms should wear for the Ring Ceremony.

Cadets during an October parade at The Citadel
Cadets during an October parade at The Citadel