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CCSU students assemble soldier packages

By Greg Gelpi

Christmas has come and is long gone, but the war in Iraq wages on and so does the need to show support for soldiers fighting the war, said Heather Underwood.

Underwood, the first vice president of the Clayton College & State University Student Nurses Association, said nursing students had planned to send care packages around this time of year, but rededicated themselves to the project upon learning of a connection to the soldiers on the warfront.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William "Billy" Odom, the son of Associate Professor of Nursing Sue Odom, deployed to Iraq recently. Although Billy Odom, 24, is assigned to a non-deployable squadron, he volunteered to serve a stint in Iraq.

"As it got closer, it got more difficult," Sue Odom said of the time leading up to her son's departure. "It just made me feel very very special that they care about me and that they care about my son."

She said that her son has a tremendous sense of patriotism and wanted to fight for his country ever since Sept. 11. He is serving an eight-month stint outside of Fallujah as a helicopter mechanic.

"It just gives you a sense of warmth," Underwood, 26, of McDonough said of the care package campaign. "Just knowing it's going to touch them, touches me."

She said that she was moved by stories she heard on the radio of soldiers receiving care packages and wanted to contribute herself.

"The things we really seem to take for granted, they really enjoy," she said. "It's just heartbreaking for me. They're doing so much for us."

The Student Nurses Association is gathering the following items: Baby wipes, white cushion sole crew socks, Tums, aspirin, Tylenol, non-aerosol bug spray, cotton swabs, Band-Aids, Odor Eaters, Vaseline lotion, Benadryl, sunscreen, moon pies, small flip-top canned fruit, apple sauce packs, chips, hard candies, Tang, Power Bars, Tootsie Rolls, marshmallows, small packs of peanuts, tuna in foil packets, Vienna sausages, beef jerky, gum and Kool-Aid and Crystal Lite Powder Packs, along with letters for Odom and other soldiers.

The Student Nurses Association began collecting items about three weeks ago, Underwood said, and will continue collecting items through April in room 37-C of the Business and Health Sciences Building.

"We didn't want to do it at Christmas because we figured they would be getting an influx of packages," she said.

Mary Louise Austin, the president and executive director of the United Service Organizations Council of Georgia, Inc., said that donations drop off significantly after the holidays.

"They slack off after holidays, but we can always use donations," Austin said, adding that the USO gave 701 care packages to soldiers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Sunday.

The USO accepts only monetary donations, she said, but donations can be sent to P.O. Box 20963, Atlanta, Ga. 30320.