Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Giving back

Students send packages to troops stationed overseas

“There is no greater need than to support and minister to those who risk their lives daily for our freedoms … Students Behind our Service members (SBS) is dedicated to doing much more by offering support and showing sincere gratitude for their sacrifice,” the SBS brochure states.

SBS is a student-run organization on Liberty’s campus that began in 2007. The vision of Amanda Verlander, the founder, was to give back to soldiers both at home and overseas. This goal is seen in the hard work of students who volunteer their time for activities such as package drives and collection events, according to Brittani Rose, president of SBS.

“I’d have to say one of my favorite things is when we go to Kroger,” Brittany Smith, event coordinator, said. “We set up a booth, and we’re able to collect goods … not just money, but food and stuff to send to the troops in the care packages.”

The packages put together by SBS mostly go overseas and are delivered to troops.

“(W)e send care packages overseas to both people affiliated with Liberty or student’s family members, or we adopt units over there,” Rose said. “We usually send 50 care packages at a time to one or two units so they can distribute.”

SBS not only cares for the troops but for their families as well.

“I know last year we lost two soldiers that were Liberty students, so we sent care packages to their wives and to each one of their children,” Rose said. “It’s just to say, ‘We were there for your husband. We’re here for you guys as well.”

Along with the ministry of sending packages to the troops and their families, SBS is also involved in coordinating events for the troops and their families who are home or who are still students.

They also take trips to the veterans hospital to minister through conversation or playing games, which is the most rewarding part of the mission, according to Rose.

“(I)t definitely shows when we go to the veterans’ hospital, because you get to see firsthand how much they appreciate us just spending time with them,” Rose said. “We do get thank-you letters back from the care packages that we send overseas, but to see that one-on-one (and) in person is so much more enlightening.”

In the past few years, the opportunities to serve have increased as more students give their time as volunteers or for Christian/Community Service (CSER). According to Rose, when she first started with the organization three years ago, there were about 10 students involved. Now, she and Smith are coordinating events to accommodate more than 40
volunteers.

Becoming involved with this organization is one of the best ways for students to be support the troops, according to Military Outreach Coordinator Kathi Edinger.

“Our service members who are deployed are encouraged and blessed knowing that the sacrifice that they make each day is noticed and appreciated by others,” Edinger said. “This builds morale, and that is important when you are deployed and away from your family. We call it rallying the troops, and SBS does a fantastic job of rallying the troops.”

Donations for the packages are accepted at any time throughout the year. To volunteer or sign up for CSER, email sbs@liberty.edu.

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