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Students Gather Books for Soldiers

December 7, 2012

Heidi Harris/Times-Record Valley City State University professor Jonna Ziniel, left, and Erika Ettl, student at VCSU, package up books, cards and letters for soldiers Thursday as they take their part in a national organization called “Books for Soldiers.” The students participated in the project as part of a service learning project.

Valley City State University students spent Thursday packaging up books and other supplies for soldiers as a service learning project and charity campaign.

The students in professor Jonna Ziniel’s human communication course have spent the past two weeks gathering donations, including books, cards and letters and basic toiletries, to send to soldiers serving overseas.

The organization, called “Books for Soldiers,” has grown from sending just books to much more.

“It was someone who had been in the military, and, that was one of the things, they go through so many books there, and so they started it, and so now it’s been an organization for quite a while,” Ziniel said.

“The soldiers can request specific books or specific items, but a lot of them just want a care package or a box of different items, and so that’s what we’re doing,” she said.

The soldiers can make requests via the website, or a chaplain can make a request for someone who doesn’t get a lot of mail.

Students posted fliers and wrote press releases, asking for donations from around the campus.

“That’s who provided a majority of the materials,” Ziniel said, but students from St. Catherine’s School also sent handmade cards that will be included in the packages.

Books for Soliders is a national organization that depends on volunteers who must be registered with the website to send packages.

“I started about six years ago just as an individual sending packages out to different people,” Ziniel said. “And then last year we started it with the COMM 114 class.”

Ziniel plans to continue this project yearly for her class.

“I think the service project is really nice for students. We can volunteer and stuff and actually support the troops who are serving our country,” said freshman Erika Ettl, who is involved with the project through her class. “It’s nice to know we get lots of donations and (people) who support our soldiers.”

She said people across the university were very responsive with the project.

“Within two weeks we already have a lot of donations,” Ettl said.

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