The dinners this summer at Veterans Village have been going very well, thank you for asking. Each week they surprise me.

This week I stepped out of the singing laughing eating crowd of students and veterans to the porch and talked to a student of mine who also happens to be a veteran himself.  The sky was dark grey, heralding a torrential rainstorm that was too lazy to actually arrive.

He told me that this wasn't what he expected, and that it was great.

Or something like that.

 I agreed. The dinners get better each week.

There are video clips to support this, and pictures of laughing posing students that are posted in our Facebook group, and if you can't see them now I'll show them to you one day. Back to the story. 

He asked if he could come again next week and I told him he could come to all the dinners, any and every Thursday.

And then he asked, "Who comes and feeds the Veterans the rest of the nights?"

I tell him something professorial like, That's a great question. The best question ever.

 And I might have also said, "No one, they just drop off food and skid away like the Veterans are zombies," but I'm not sure.

 I am sure of one thing.

Because he asked that question, because he saw -- on his own -- how much work there really is to be done, there is hope.


I am blonde again (on purpose, of course) and I bought my first pair of super cute wedges since 2013.

This is a big deal.

 I declare my year of broken things over. 

 No more scooter, no more casts, no more of anything but strength and flexibility.

I'm done, I'm moving on.
Actually, I'm standing in the kitchen.

Zoe reaches around me to get something in the pantry.

She looks at me then looks up into my eyes.

Her: You're taller than me again.

Me. Seems so.

Her: I like it when you're taller than me. I feel..... safer.

She hugs me (hard!!) without leaning down or bending over over for the first time in a very long time.

I rest my chin on the top of her head for the first time in forever.

Three seconds later she pulls back and goes back to what she was doing.

I decide that I need to buy more cute shoes ASAP to help me be a better mother, then laugh.

My year of broken things is definitely over.

Service Projects from 2010* Required reading*

To my AMH 2015 summer school students -- one of our service project options will be bringing bags of food and toiletries along with boxes of fun to VA in Lake City for the residents there.

 I will post more details about what should be in your box/bag on June 2.

Whitney: My Box to the Veterans
One of the most enjoyable parts of this entire semester in Dr. Soldani’s class was doing the community service project.  It’s a great feeling knowing you’re helping someone in great need of belongings, or simply in need of some moral support.  I chose to do my community service project on the veterans because after hearing Dr. Soldani’s story about David, I really wanted to help them out.
            Dr. Soldani had told our class that David was a war veteran with many health issues.  His hopes were crushed time and again when his deadline for getting out of the hospital passed, and he remained there.  The feeling of knowing what life is like and then having it all stripped away from you must have been completely heartbreaking, but by what Dr. Soldani said about David, it sounded like he had a lot of inner strength to keep going.
            In my box to the veterans, I sent them a huge poker set, a “Best of Will Ferrell on SNL” DVD, Twinkies, a dry erase board with markers, a DVD called “Old School”, also featuring Will Ferrell, and seeds to plant.  I decided on the poker set because being that it’s all men in this area of the hospital, what guy hasn’t played/enjoyed a nice game of poker.  It gives them something to occupy their time in the millions of hours they have to spend in that hospital.  I gave them two Will Ferrell DVDs because he is my absolute favorite actor and I have seen both of those DVDs and thought they were absolutely hysterical.  They say that laughter is the best medicine, so I thought I’d help their healing process.  I gave them a dry erase board because who doesn’t like drawing?  I figured when their kids came in to visit them they could leave the vets happy little messages to keep their spirits going.  I gave them Twinkies because when I was little I could probably eat an entire box a day.  I wanted to remind them of their childhood and remind them of all the good things that happened in their life. The flower seeds were simply to occupy their minds and give them something to watch grow and flourish.
            In my letter to the veterans, I explained a little bit about myself.  I told them what classes I am taking, my aspirations for my future, and a little bit about my family life, mainly my two beautiful nephews, Connor and Carson, who I completely adore.  I also told them about my sister’s husband Chris (my nephew’s dad) who is currently enlisted and has been on two tours to Iraq already, and is planning on going back within the year.  I told them how hard it is letting someone in your family put their life at danger, and how much we missed him while he was gone.  I explained how important all of their duties were and how proud I am to be able to contribute anything to true heroes.  I told them that I sincerely thanked them for their time fighting for me and everyone else in this country.  And lastly I told them that I hoped my gifts bring them great laughter and joy and all my best wishes for a full recovery.
            When I first heard about the service project I didn’t know how I would be able to bring happiness to people who are going through such difficult times, but then I realized how exciting and uplifting hearing encouraging words from strangers must be.  My brother-in-law Chris said that his absolute favorite thing while he was in Iraq wasn’t receiving gifts (although he didn’t mind those) it was receiving letters from people telling him what a good job he’s doing and how proud everyone is of him.  A few words of encouragement really could make a difference in somebody who’s going through a rough patch, and I hope they enjoyed the gifts just as much as the kind letters.
            I put a lot of effort into creating my box for the veterans, and thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  Helping those less fortunate than you is very important to me and I try to do so as much as possible, in whatever ways I can.  I hope David gets better soon so he can return home and be with his family, and I wish all the other Vets the same.  Thank you so much Dr. Soldani for giving me the opportunity to do this community service project, it was a pleasure.



Camp Alamo Deserves My Box

                       First of all, we had to pick between sending to a hospital or Camp Alamo, which was where some of the soldiers were stationed. We then had to buy useful and necessary items we thought the soldiers would not only enjoy but also appreciate.  In my First box I decided to send the soldiers razors, Caramel cookies, cards, anti bacterial gel, deodorant, gum, bars or Irish Spring soap, socks and some mixed candies. I knew that they would appreciate more the bars of soap, socks, deodorant, and anti bacterial gel but they would definitely enjoy the rest. To me it really didn’t matter how much I was spending because it really couldn’t compare to what they were doing for me. I tried to accommodate all of the repeated items so that I could fit everything nicely that way they could enjoy more things. In the second box, I got similar things but added boxes of Cracker Jacks and some packs of Twinkies. Both of my boxes were filled to the top but all I hoped for was that the soldiers would benefit from them emotionally and that their cravings for common snacks and comfort would be met.
                       The next part of our service project was adding a letter of gratefulness, a story of a vet in our family or that of one of one in our classes. I chose to write a letter thanking them for what they do each day not only because I have never met a soldier but I felt that they would be better honored if I expressed my immediate gratitude. In my letter I mentioned not knowing a soldier but I felt that I had immense gratefulness just for the servitude they were doing for me. I also included that they by far were the most courageous people I have ever hope to personally meet and to let them know that not everyone could do what they were doing. Also I explained to them my experience on 9/11, how I was in religion class learning about always keeping faith. The irony for me was that on that day I felt America had lost a great deal of faith. I mentioned I had never met any active duty soldier for our Country but after that tragedy I prayed for them all each day to keep them safe and to be returned to their families.  How the national anthem means more now than before and it has to also do with these young soldiers whose ages are like mine.  Lastly, I had the privilege of getting a letter back from one of the soldiers whom I never really expected and had a big surprise when I opened my mail.  His name is Noah and he is originally from California. He thanked me, for taking my time and spending my money to share with strangers I had never met. He also talked about how he hoped to one day visit Florida. I was glad that he not only liked what he received but that he too took time to let me know. I will always keep that letter and in the future send him more items he can enjoy.
                       Lastly, the project assigned by Dr.Soldani not only changed many soldiers’ lives but also those of us that chose to participate in this great and very rewarding activity. This is the first project that not only I take pleasure in doing but I also feel like I actually made a difference in someone’s life. I hope other teachers learn from Dr. Soldani’s thoughtful service assignment and do it as well because it truly is satisfying to give to those that are giving of their lives.  I hope that everyone that also did this project feels a great sense of pride and feels that they too made a little difference in a soldier’s hectic life.
Service Projects = Hope

This year in Dr. Soldani’s AMH II class we all were given a choice of two projects and to choose one or both to do. One of the projects was to send a box to Iraq to one of her former students and his base members. The other project was to send a full bag of goodies, food, and or clothing to the veterans at the VA Hospital in Lake City, FL. I chose to send 2 bags of goodies and food to the veterans at the VA Hospital.
             The reason that I choose this service project is because my heart goes out to those that may not be able to get around and buy their food or their own clothing. When I’m able to help someone who may be in need I do so if I can. Another reason why I chose this project  is that it does my heart good to put a smile on someone’s face and know that the things you do for them is very much appreciated. Even though I wasn’t able to deliver the goods that I purchased physically, I just know and feel that it was appreciated by the veterans.
            Some of the things that I sent were noodles, games (checkers & dominos), note pads, pens, juice pouches, candy, cookies, and etc. These were some of the things that were requested and other things were given that weren’t requested just in case it was needed down the line. We were also asked by Dr. Soldani to write a letter stating who we are and etc. In my letter I introduced myself and began to write words of encouragement and a little humor. Some of the letter goes as follows: Sometimes those of us who seem as if we have everything take life and its commodities for granted. Most of the time we don’t appreciate or congratulate our family and friends on their accomplishments or just for their love, support, and friendship. We feel that the reason they show their affection towards us is for the mere reason that they have to and they should. But I’m here to show my appreciation to you and the other VA veterans through this letter.  Even though you’re not blood relatives of mine I would like to thank you for being brave soldiers back then and brave veterans right now. I appreciate all that you’ve fought for towards this country and as well as for your family. I am grateful that you all lived to tell the story of war, its outcome, and survival. That is just a little something of the letter written to the veterans.
            The value and meaning of this project was to show forth gratitude and show that I can help make a difference in someone’s life. Whether it is through a letter or just food, I can make a difference. The value of this project was to learn to not always put your-self first. Many times people have done that and get nothing out of what they have done. I have done that a couple of times myself. When you put self first sometimes self doesn’t appreciate things like someone other than you would. The thought of just putting your-self aside for once and giving to someone else who may or may not be in need makes you feel good and better about things in life. This teaches you a form of grattituity and appreciation. This teaches you to appreciate life and the things you are able to have such as food, shelter, clothing, all the use and activity of your limbs, and everything else in between. Doing this project will also teach you, how to be kind hearted to others as well.
            This service project that I chose to do for the veterans at the VA Hospital was very inspirational to me and allowed me to exercise in ways of giving, appreciation, and love. Not too often do the colleges students like my-self get a chance to do a service project like this. I am truly grateful to Dr. Soldani for allowing us to share our soft side to others. Also for giving us the chance to give and not always expecting something in return, even though we received “Soldani dollars” and a grade. I enjoyed and thought that this project was great idea.

As part of my service project I sent food and comfort items along with letters about my uncle who served in the US Army and I shared some of his experiences.  I also shared a little about myself being a full-time student in the paralegal studies program and how I really enjoyed your class.  My history class in high school was not the most exciting but you have made this history class very interesting.  The usage of the slides as a learning tool allowed me to make a visual with written word which made it easier to remember events.  This course has increased my curiosity about national and world events of which I had little previous knowledge.

     As spring is a wonderful time for new beginnings, I sent in flower seeds , started soil and "green house" to plant them in.  I also sent in several books to provide interesting reading and keep their minds engaged and perhaps give them something to discuss after reading.  I also sent in some snacks that may not be readily available at the VA.  The letters I wrote in hopes to let them know that they have not been forgotten.  This project means a lot to me because I have an uncle that is also a veteran and was in the VA hospital for some time. When we would go visit him we also had the opportunity to sit with some of the other veterans in the hospital.My mom would read to a few of the veterans that had lost their eye sight and she would often read letters to some of the patients that couldn't read the letters the family had mailed.   My grandmother would send in fruits that my uncle would also share with some of the other patients. Because many of the patients there had little or no family to visit them , my family would sometimes read to them and buy flowers. For the few my uncle got close to we would get them birthday cards and holiday cards.  I know from my own experience with being in the hospital that getting flowers, cards and visits helped lift my spirit and actually heal faster.  I told my uncle about this project and he wishes that he could have been a part of something like this while he was in the hospital because a lot of people do tend to forget about the veterans and just how special they are.  This project is way for me to be able to thank the many veterans that left their loved ones behind to protect people they don't even know, fight to keep the United States  a free country and put their lives on the line to fight wars that the US engaged in.  Without our veterans we would not have the liberties we have beause it is them who fought for this.  This project also reminds me that although I face many challenges within my own life, their are others who put themselves in real harms way to serve this great country.  As a result of this project I can never again take the freedom that we cherish so dearly for granted. The incredible sacrifice that these men have made and continue to endure has made an indelible impression on me. I can never look at this war and the cost of human conflict in the same way ever again.  I try to attend all the Veterans Day parades and I display an American flag on my property as the American flag is a symbol of our freedom in this country.  This project is valuable because it maintains a real connection between us civilians and what can often be a forgotten war. Many of us are not directly involved in these conficts and it is not as prominently covered by the media as it once was.  There is a tendancy for our attention to the cost of war deminishing over time. Because of this project I am definatly more aware our veterans and will start visiting again, sending flowers and staying connected by writing letters and sending cards.   I thank you for this opportunity to be reminded of he human element and cost of this conflict.

            This semester we were asked to do a service project for our fellow veterans. We had the option of sending things to our soldiers that are in Iraq currently or we could send some stuff to our injured veterans in a hospital in Lake City. I did the project twice and sent them both to the hospital in Lake City. I know the troops over in Iraq are awfully bored and need entertainment, but at least if something were to happen, I would know they were going to be ready to fight, not wait until they were done playing Monopoly. Of course, I don’t have a cold heart, I can sympathize with those people and I am very grateful for their service and all, but I knew my heart felt more compassion with the ones in the hospitals that had already done their job for us and they had absolutely nothing to look forward to anymore while they are sitting in a hospital room healing. I couldn’t stop imagining crippled men and women sitting helplessly in a wheelchair, some with no arms, no legs, no fingers, no toes, no nothing and having other people and nurses to do everything for them like feeding them and helping them go to the bathroom. This picture I kept seeing in my head was very similar to the scene in Forest Gump when they get back from the war and it shows all the injured troops, and I just couldn’t stand that thought, I felt like I just had to give back to them in some way.
            This project was the perfect opportunity to do so. We were also required to write them a letter that contained a little information about ourselves, how we appreciate their service, and then something about either a veteran we knew or that was in our family. I opened the letter with an introduction of myself, told them how appreciative I am that we have such brave and courageous people like them to defend our country and then I proceeded to tell them about the three veterans I have in my family. I told them about one of my grandfathers, who recently passed away in January, that served in the Korean War from 1950-1952. Also I informed them of my other grandfather, on my dad’s side, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. Then, the most recent veteran in my family, my uncle Izzy, who served in Desert Storm from 1990-1991 and was in Iraq on two tours in the present war. I told them about my uncles last tour in Iraq when they promoted him to Colonel and that he is now retired. To make the letter more personal, I enclosed a few pictures; one of each of my grandfathers in their uniforms, one of my grandfather actually in Korea during the war and one of my uncle holding me when I was just three weeks old when he got home from his last tour and he was still wearing his uniform and still had his guns strapped to him.
            Along with the letter, we were required to send some essential supplies that the troops and veterans might need for entertainment and just day-to-day materials. I sent an assortment of food like; ramen noodles, beef jerky, and different kinds of candy. Of course that was not all though; I sent board games, puzzles, an art kit with colored pencils, drawing paper and a pencil sharpener. Then came the crucial stuff like toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream and soap. I believe I sent more but I cannot remember all of them, for I am going by memory here, so bare with me.
            All in all, this project is truly a wonderful experience, and to have the chance to give back to these honorable people who have fought and protected us through rough and hard times is a really good feeling. Doing a good deed like this really makes you feel good about yourself and definitely makes the people on the receiving end very happy campers. After all, don’t you think they deserve it after what they’ve been through for us? I know none of these materialistic things can never really compare to how much we really appreciate their hard work and devotion, it is the least we could do as good citizens.
Dear Future Students,
            One of the most incredibly thoughtful and generous projects we did this semester was the service project. The mission of our service projects was to send a box to a TCC graduate who will share it with his soldiers at camp Alamo in Afghanistan or provide comfort and morale to a TCC student who is exiled at the V.A. hospital in Lake City. Out of the two service projects I choose the one that was at Camp Alamo in Afghanistan because those are our troops that is currently fighting over seas for our country. It’s sad that they aren’t able to come home when they get ready. I believe that they should be able to have whatever they ask for especially since they’re not able to come home and get it themselves. Some of the items that I included in the box; I send was books, magazines, crossword puzzles, razors, soaps, rags, bug spray, q-tips, candy, snacks, food, socks, drinks, and crabs just to name a few items. I send a lot of books and magazines so that they could have different sources of reading entertainment. One day they could choose to read the books, another day they can read the magazines and find out the latest news of what’s happening in the world. Basically I send them anything that they cooked for and that I could get for them or anything that I thought they really needed. Another part of thru service project that meant a lot to me people just sending them stuff, was writing the letter. The letter process was very touching. In my letter I information about myself. I also thanked them for all their support, hard work and dedication towards our country. I also told them how brave they are and how I respect them to the upmost for all they have done and are doing. I wished them well and told them that I hope they are able to come home soon to be with their family, friends and love ones. When I was putting this project together, I took my time and put extra effort into so that it would be very meaningful. I didn’t just do it just to receive a grade. I did it because I meant it from my heart. I think this project was an excellent idea that Dr. Soldani came up with, and everybody who ever decides to take her class should be delighted to one of the two service projects. From the responses that came back from the troop, everyone over there who received a box was very appreciative of it and very much enjoyed everything that inside the boxes. Hopefully Dr. Soldani will continue to have this service project as an major consignment throughout each semester because it was a great experience while doing this project made me look at the troops in a mare respectable way than before. The fact that the troops took time out of their schedule to reply back to some of our letter was also a touching moment.

Spring 2010 I was given the two options to either send out a box to Camp Alamo with a well written letter and some goodies or sending items to a VA Hospital with a letter attached.  I thought about the options for about a week letting it worry me down to the last day before the extra credit expired.  I thought about the pros and cons of both and quickly came to the result that the men and women at Camp Alamo can not just get into a car and try to the nearest Wal-Mart or Target to get what they need.  Some things are provided but the things that you can not get you miss the most and I wanted to help out the courageous people who make this country keep running with freedom.  Thinking about what I could put in the 12x12 flat rate box I went to the Wal-Mart to maybe see what I could purchase to make this a great box.  I spent about three hours in Wal-Mart because I wanted my box to be the absolute best box out of the 60 plus students in the class.  Also knowing that out of the boxes before me most of the previous students who were doing the box had bought the less expensive items and that the people at Camp Alamo are sick of Ramen Noodles and Deodorant.  Picking out a couple boxes of candy that wouldn’t melt was my first choice and that’s because everyone loves candy.  Knowing that my cousin was once deployed in Afghanistan I called up my aunt because I know she had sent items over there once in a while.  She babbled about how no one ever sends them protein and that they really needed it.  She told me how she found out that my cousin was wearing the same socks over and over again.  From there the conversation got weirder.  She had stated that people never send condoms over to them.  I honestly thought she was nuts and wasn’t thinking properly but I listened and she had said it keeps the barrel of the gun from getting jammed.  After getting off the phone with her I called up my cousin and he gave me the same answer but he had also said that they need white under shirts but they had to be a certain kind of material called polyfibers because the bullets put holes in cloth.  Getting great solutions I grabbed the polyfibers under shirt, black high socks, tuna for the protein, and of course the 12 pack of condoms.  My box was coming to a conclusion I thought but the next day I went to class Dr. Soldani was preaching how the boxes being sent out needed to have a great magazine.  I was worried that what I had in my box after that wasn’t enough.  Directly after all of my classes I drove to a store that I knew sold the goodies I needed which was the gas station near by.  I bought my first Penthouse magazine, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.  I than thought I was done for sure.  I knew my box had everything a guy could miss.  After buying all the great items a man needs I went home and wrote a letter to put in the box.  The letter stated before anything else how I had much respect for him and the person opening this box deserves it more than anyone because he is putting his life on the line for a great nation.  From there I reviled my name, where I went to school at, why I bought all the things in the box, and told him a story about how my cousin was in Afghanistan at the beginning of the war and how he has been a Marine for ten years now and he is moving his family of six to Japan for a couple of years because he is being deployed over there.  I am happy that this was a grade and all but if it wasn’t I would of still enjoyed putting one together for our men and woman across seas. Everyone across seas needs some kind of gift like this.  They miss holidays and every other special day you can celebrate so every once and a while they need a little something to bring there self esteem up and be told that what they are doing a great thing and everyone in our country respects how brave they are. 

The service project that I decided to do was Camp Alamo. This service project consisted of sending a box overseas to our troops with items that they would like and anything else that you think they would appreciate.

            The reason why I chose this project is because I wanted to show them that I appreciate everything that they are currently doing. We get so busy and preoccupied with our daily lives, we forget sometimes that our country is currently at war and that our brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers are over their fighting and risking their lives for us. Another reason why I wanted to do this service project as well is because my best friend Daniel enlisted in the Army one year ago. And before that I really didn‚Äôt think about the troops on a personal level or even thought of sending them something to show appreciation.  He is so be a part of the Army and that one day he will also have the privilege of fighting for his country. I can only imagine that is what all of the troops feel, so why not feel like it‚Äôs a privilege to show them gratitude and appreciation. So I felt that this was an awesome opportunity to show them that they have not been forgotten.

            I wanted to send them things that they would enjoy and things that are definitely not accessible overseas. In my box I sent Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, Honey Buns, Buzucka Gum, Stride Gum, Slim Jims, Lolly Pops, playing cards, comic books, cds, a picture of me, Crackers, Lays Stack Chips, and other fun things.  All of these things that I sent were things that Daniel said they would like as well as my uncle who is a Desert Storm Veteran. I painted the inside of the flaps red and wrote ‚ÄúYou Are My Heroes‚Äù on the flaps of the box so that when they open it that is the first thing that they see.  I wanted them to know that I just didn‚Äôt buy things to put in a box and mail it, rather I took time and pride in what I was doing for them. And that at that moment I was proud to be able to do this for them.

            In my letter I gave thanks to all of them and commended them for their bravery that they all possessed, and that we are all very grateful for their selflessness and putting a whole country as their priority.  I told them about myself and I admitted that before this class and I never thought of sending them a box of goodies because I was one of those people who was too busy worrying about my daily life but was absent minded to what was happening overseas in efforts to serve the country that gives me freedom. I told them about Daniel and that he also was a big part of my new efforts to show extreme support for the troops.  I told them about my uncle and how he is a three strip Sergeant Desert Storm veteran and what battalion he was in. I told them how my uncle is so proud to have served his country and that I hope that they feel the same way once this is all over and they get to come home. 

            I have never felt so great about a project that I ever done in my whole life. For once I was not just doing this for a good grade to self fulfill my goals, rather I was doing this for someone else, someone who is doing this for me without even thinking twice and especially without even knowing who they are exactly doing it for.  I am going to take this experience and hold it forever. I am looking forwards to getting a letter back from the troops and having a consistent contact. I can see myself definitely doing this again even if it is not for a grade. They are not fighting for us to receive praise but because they want to, so why should it be different for us not to want to send them even a letter to reassure them that they haven‚Äôt been forgotten.  Thank you, Soldani for making me realize there is someone out there doing something for me and I haven‚Äôt showed them that I do recognize their efforts and not making me but having me want to show them that they are recognized.


The service project that I decided to do was Camp Alamo. This service project consisted of sending a box overseas to our troops with items that they would like and anything else that you think they would appreciate.

            The reason why I chose this project is because I wanted to show them that I appreciate everything that they are currently doing. We get so busy and preoccupied with our daily lives, we forget sometimes that our country is currently at war and that our brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers are over their fighting and risking their lives for us. Another reason why I wanted to do this service project as well is because my best friend Daniel enlisted in the Army one year ago. And before that I really didn‚Äôt think about the troops on a personal level or even thought of sending them something to show appreciation.  He is so be a part of the Army and that one day he will also have the privilege of fighting for his country. I can only imagine that is what all of the troops feel, so why not feel like it‚Äôs a privilege to show them gratitude and appreciation. So I felt that this was an awesome opportunity to show them that they have not been forgotten.

            I wanted to send them things that they would enjoy and things that are definitely not accessible overseas. In my box I sent Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers, Honey Buns, Buzucka Gum, Stride Gum, Slim Jims, Lolly Pops, playing cards, comic books, cds, a picture of me, Crackers, Lays Stack Chips, and other fun things.  All of these things that I sent were things that Daniel said they would like as well as my uncle who is a Desert Storm Veteran. I painted the inside of the flaps red and wrote ‚ÄúYou Are My Heroes‚Äù on the flaps of the box so that when they open it that is the first thing that they see.  I wanted them to know that I just didn‚Äôt buy things to put in a box and mail it, rather I took time and pride in what I was doing for them. And that at that moment I was proud to be able to do this for them.

            In my letter I gave thanks to all of them and commended them for their bravery that they all possessed, and that we are all very grateful for their selflessness and putting a whole country as their priority.  I told them about myself and I admitted that before this class and I never thought of sending them a box of goodies because I was one of those people who was too busy worrying about my daily life but was absent minded to what was happening overseas in efforts to serve the country that gives me freedom. I told them about Daniel and that he also was a big part of my new efforts to show extreme support for the troops.  I told them about my uncle and how he is a three strip Sergeant Desert Storm veteran and what battalion he was in. I told them how my uncle is so proud to have served his country and that I hope that they feel the same way once this is all over and they get to come home. 

            I have never felt so great about a project that I ever done in my whole life. For once I was not just doing this for a good grade to self fulfill my goals, rather I was doing this for someone else, someone who is doing this for me without even thinking twice and especially without even knowing who they are exactly doing it for.  I am going to take this experience and hold it forever. I am looking forwards to getting a letter back from the troops and having a consistent contact. I can see myself definitely doing this again even if it is not for a grade. They are not fighting for us to receive praise but because they want to, so why should it be different for us not to want to send them even a letter to reassure them that they haven‚Äôt been forgotten.  Thank you, Soldani for making me realize there is someone out there doing something for me and I haven‚Äôt showed them that I do recognize their efforts and not making me but having me want to show them that they are recognized.


Service Project
            This semester in Dr. Soldani’s American History class, we were given the opportunity to do a service project which would be worth 10% of our grade. We could either send a box to a TCC graduate who would share it with his fellow soldiers at Camp Alamo in Afghanistan, or we could bring in a bag of comfort food and goodies to Dr. Soldani who would bring to a current TCC student who was exiled at the VA hospital in Lake City. This student would distribute all these goods to the Vets there in the hospital. With both of these projects, we had to include a letter to each of these TCC students. These letters had to include us thanking them for their services somehow, along with either a story about a Vet in your family/home life, a story about a Vet in one of your classes, or an interesting History story. I think both of these are great things for these men and women. I chose to send the box to the TCC graduate in Camp Alamo in Afghanistan.
            Either project would have suited me just fine, but I had mentioned both of them to my mother and she was really interested in sending the box and she wanted to help. We ended up sending two different boxes to the soldiers. Believe me, I am sure we could have sent more if we got the chance to! Dr. Soldani gave us a list of many different things we could send. She got these items from requests from Sgt. Matthew S. Reel, the TCC graduate. There were a variety of different things to choose from. We could send things like Little Debbie snack cakes, cans of Chef Boyardee, magazines, baby wipes, and smokeless tobacco. Also, for the letter she gave the girls the bright idea of spraying our perfume on them.
            For my boxes, I had one that had all the food and candy and such, then with the other box it had all of the non perishable items. For the box with the food, I chose things such as individual little candy bars, which included Reese’s, Snickers, Twix, Butterfinger, and Kit Kat. I bought individual containers of Pringles, original, sour cream and onion, and cheddar cheese. I bought some beef jerky, some oatmeal cream pies. And instead of smokeless tobacco, I got a big bag of sunflower seeds, and two small bags of peanuts. I also got them 3 packs of gum. I was going to send a bunch of Gatorades to keep the soldiers hydrated, but I figured that would take up too much room in my box, so I decided to buy two packs of each kind of Kool-Aid there is. Each packet makes a lot of Kool-Aid so hopefully those 10 packets would help them in the long run. My second box contained a lot of necessities. I bought things such as mouthwash and dental floss. I also bought these nifty little things called Wisps. They are disposable toothbrushes; they were probably a lot easier for the soldiers to keep up with as they traveled from station to station and what not. I bought a box of 500 count cotton swabs and some hand sanitizer wipes. Dr. Soldani mentioned that bug spray was a big item that was wanted, so I bought two bottles of bug spray. And last but not least I bought some tall black socks!
            My letter was a little difficult for me to write. I have no one in my family who was ever a Veteran and I didn’t know many people in my class now who were Vets either. So, I started by introducing myself and thanking them for everything they were doing. I told them how interested I was in doing this project for them and also how my mom was interested and how we decided to send more than one box. I then went into detail about how I went to high school with a few people who had gone out to join different branches of the army. I told them about how one went to the army, one joined the navy and another joined the coast guard. They were some interesting stories to say the least.
            I felt like project could mean a lot to many people, not to those families and friends of the ones serving over in Afghanistan. I want to also thank Dr. Soldani for this great opportunity.

As one of the assignments in class, we were asked to do a service project for 10% of our grade.  Dr. Soldani gave us a choice to either send a package of goodies to Afghanistan for the soldiers in Camp Alamo, or some supplies to the VA Hospital in Lake City.  It was for a good cause and to let the soldiers that have fought and soldiers that are fighting for America and its people that we do care and we do think of them. 
            I decided to do my project for the VA Hospital.  To me, I feel that the veterans that have been injured in war need a boost of confidence and a reassurance that the American people still think about them and to also let them know that we are thankful for the sacrifices that they have made for us, so we can live in peace and harmony from others that terror us.  I find that it breaks my heart when you know that these veterans of war have not only lost physical parts of their bodies, but some gave up the life to have a marriage and children.  Some have given up the ones they love most to they can live a happy life so they do not have to watch the man that they love in constant pain and agony.   I know that I for one, can’t relate to the fact of how much they have lost or had to let go, but my heart still sinks to my gut when I think about these men and I saw that doing the project for the VA Hospital would allow me to show my appreciation toward these men.
            When I did the project, I had limited amount of money because I didn’t have a job but I took a dollar and was able to stretch it (as my mother always put it.)   I was told that they needed things to keep them preoccupied so I went to target and found some pretty cool stuff.  First, I found a poker setup with a carrying case, poker chips, and a deck of cards.  I figured that it was perfect because guys/men love to play poker and a couple of hands can go on for hours it seems.  Then I started looking in the arts in craft area, I knew that I like to scrap book and it always kept me busy but I also knew that these are grown men that I’m doing this for, and I can’t get them scrap booking stuff.  So I decided to get some crayons, color pencils, scissors, glue, a ruler, a blue pencil box to store all the stuff away, some colored construction paper, and a sketching pad.  I then found a dark blue plastic basket so they can store stuff in and keep stuff organized. Oh, I picked up an extra deck of cards because I everyone knows how to play some sort of card game. 
            Within the blue bin, I placed everything very neatly and laid I letter in a sealed envelope on top.  In the letter I introduced myself as Lauren Barnes and I explained to them that I was taking a History class at TCC.  I explain to them how grateful I was for what they did.  I told them that people still think about them and that they are grateful too even if they don’t show it sometimes.  I told them that what they did was not only brave, but heroic.  I then shared a story about my grandfather in WWII.  I told them how my grandfather was very lucky because he was suppose to be the first recruit to invade Germany on D-Day but somehow was push back to the second recruit instead.  Then I shared that even though my grandfather was lucky, that they were too.  Because they still came home with a story to tell.   I explained that no matter how they think about themselves, I thought, and always will think that they are lucky.
            I am glad that I chose the VA Hospital service project because it was a great opportunity to show someone who is down that there are still people in this world that do care and want to help.  I am grateful for the opportunity that was presented to me, but I wish that I could have done more than I did.  The last thing I want to say is thank you Dr. Soldani for having the kind heart that you do to even think of others in the way you should me that you do.                

            For the service project, I decided to do the box for Camp Alamo. Although the gifts for the Veterans Hospital was probably easier than sending the boxes, I really wanted to send my support to the guys over seas. However, the Veterans Hospital is just as important as the troops overseas, I felt more impelled to send the box. I loved the variety of items that we were able to send. I wanted to be creative with the box with a bunch of items that will brighten someone’s day over there. I know it must be hard to be away from familiar faces, friends, and family members. I know I hate being away from my friends and family for more than a week!
            By the time that I had gotten everything together to put my box together, the guidelines changed a little, in that the guys had gotten many boxes already they were asking for “themed” boxes (i.e. Food box, hygiene box, etcetera). I wish I was able to put a specific theme to my box, but I tried my hardest to make it unique any way. Within the box, I included some socks and wrapped them in ribbon and put a little Christmas bow on for fun, wash clothes and two shirts. I put in a bottle of bug spray (non-scented), soap, baby wipes (without the colorful hippos), Chap Stick, two packs of the little wisps toothbrushes, and a few packs of gum for a taste of mint rather than sand or sweat from wearing all that heavy gear in the hot sun. For their entertainment, I included a car magazine and a pack of cards; I tried to find some kind of poker chips or dice because men like to play poker, right? They would not have fit in the box anyway. Food wise I included peanut butter crackers (hoping they didn’t get too terrible crushed), twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers, Chef Boyardee, a big bag of Beef Jerky, spray cheese, and a couple of little boxed of lemonade and tea drink mix. Lastly, I added two little composition books and some pens, so that who got the box or that part of the box wanted to write something. I put a little Bible in there that I had gotten a few years past, and wrote a little message in it. I do not know who got the Bible, and I don’t know if any of the guys are Christian but I hope that the Bible is put to some good use and helps comfort someone. Because the box was divided among the camp and not given to one person specifically, I am not sure who received my last item that I put in the box.  I hope that whom ever got it took it to heart that there is someone back whom who is supporting them. I took one of the shirts I had bought and decorated it a little to give it a “homey” feel.
            I was not sure what to write in the letter or how to even start it for that matter! I had never written a letter to a soldier. I had never written a letter to someone who would not be able to write back, so I had to keep reminding myself to not ask questions. I wish I had given my mailing address so that I could ask them questions and have someone to write to. I finally decided on just sticking to the basics: My name, age, what I am in school for, my environment of being in the Sunshine State, the weather and how it was going to snow in Florida, and how I greatly appreciate their service.
To my surprise they did write back. Two of the three wrote a short and simple “Thank you for the support and box.” The other one was from a guy my age, fresh out of high school from California. He told me about how the weather was crazy at camp, and how he hopes to see more of my photography. I was really glad to read his letter and was able to somewhat relate to him in that we were the same age. I was very grateful for the opportunity of doing this project and being able to help out some of the soldiers in some way.

Clarence Lincoln
Amh 1050
April 29, 2010
The service project
            The American citizens all across the United States who join the army, navy, air force, or marines should be honored. These Americans put their lives in danger to keep peace with all American and all the other countries. Some of these people may have lost a lib, eye, or a hand to protect our human rights. It may have been from war or just helping just helping other countries become more stable with their governments. In my history class we did service projects to help all the men and women at war or in the veteran hospital; to help them along their way in war or back to health.
            In my history class we had a choice of two service projects we wanted to do for a grade in class. One service project was to help the men and women fighting in Afghanistan. The second project was for the veterans of war at the veteran’s hospital. I chose to do the veterans hospital service project, because two of my uncles fought for the United States. One lost his leg and the other died from illnesses from war. So I decided to do the veterans hospital service project; I know they need a lot of love being stuck to a bed all day.
            In my service project, I sent a lot of nice things to help the vet. Most of the things I sent in my service project were to keep the hygiene up to par for the ladies.  I sent things like, deodorant, shavers, and lotion along with shampoo and body wash to keep the body clean. I know that they have to make friends and keep each other happy to make it easier long the recovery road. I couldn’t have them smelling bad, and missing their chance to make new friends. Along with the projects we had to write a letter telling the vet how much we appreciated what they did for our country.        
            In my letter I basically said how much we as American people appreciate what they did for our county. Telling them how brave they were for joining the fight for American freedom. I also wrote about how he shouldn’t let the smell goods get him in too much trouble with the ladies in the hospital. I did that just to try and get a smile out of my letter. I didn’t want to write a long letter so I just keep it short and simple.
            I think that people should always do things like this for these people. Keeping the world at peace for human right is the right thing to do. You never know what can happen in the United States. These people will be ready to do whatever it takes to keep America safe. I sure hope that day doesn’t come.
            In conclusion I think the service projects in history class was good idea. People in America live there lives every day with freedom, and don’t think about the people who fought for these rights. These set of Americans should be honored everyday if it came to it. So I say thank you to all Americans who fought for the United States of America. HOORAH

Helping out the veterans felt like I was doing something good for someone else and that it really meant something to them.  Seeing as how my parents absolutly love chocolate candy out of all the candy invented, I decided to get someone a huge box of chocolate bars.  Not only was it just chocolate bars, but I got them the king size box.  From past experiences as well, I know that a lot of my family like to be outside and get their hands dirty in the gardens and just love to be outside in general.  Both sides of my family love to have gardens and seem to water them everyday.  So I got them some house plants that aren’t too big but not too small either.  Something with a little color in them to brighten up the room a little bit and maybe make their room feel a little more home-like.  In the letter, I told about myself and how it was my first year of college and I couldn’t be happier being away from home for the first time.  I wrote that I’ve been playing baseball and even though I am in a community college right now, I’m still getting closer to living my dream by playing college baseball.  I said that I wanted to get to Florida State when I was done at TCC.
Giving is something everyone should have a heart to do simply because it is better to give than to receive. There is no better feeling than giving someone something especially when they are in need and you meet that need. Seeing them light up and the joy appear on their face is priceless and very much so worth it. When I found out about the service project I didn’t have a dime to my name, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to give anything to the veterans or the boys at camp Alamo. When I talked to Dr. Soldani she told me “Ask a friend and see if they have anything they can give you or, if you have five dollars try goodwill.”  I took that advice and asked a friend of mine if her father had any books that he didn’t want any more that he read already. She gave me three books that looked really interesting that I almost wanted to keep to read for myself. So I chose to give to the war vets only because I didn’t really have money to get enough things for the boys at camp Alamo. The instructions were to send a letter with each donation, and to mention something about a family member of yours who is in or was in a war. I didn’t know what I would write about only because my grandfather and uncle never talked much about the war they were in together. I sat down and thought really long and hard about what I would write in this letter, I wanted it to be special and I wanted it to brighten this persons day when they read it.  I thought back really hard about my grandfather and one thing he taught me or told me that pertained to the war he was in, and for a while I couldn’t come up with anything. So I decided to get up and make my bed up and then a light bulb went off on the top of my head, and I realized that I was making my bed up military style and my grandfather is the one who taught me that. I grabbed my paper immediately and talked about how my grandfather taught me how to make up the bed military style. I told them in the letter my grandfather told me to make the bed one day and I went and started making it up and my grandfather left the room. I made the bed and here I am seven years old thinking hey this look real good, and then here came my grandfather yelling saying “NO THAT’S ALL WRONG!” My grandfather went over to the bed and just snatched all the sheets off and said “Now I’m going to show you how to do this properly.” I just stood there looking at him tuck everything as tight as he could and I thought why do I have to do it like that. Once dear old granddad was done making the bed up he snatched all the stuff off the bed and again and turn to me and said “Here now you do it.” I thought this story would make who ever read it laugh out of their seat or at least make them smile really hard, and I just wanted to put a smile on a face.  I believe this project taught us how to sacrifice ourselves and our wants for someone else’s needs. I’m sure for someone this was a big sacrifice of self, and that for many people can be very hard and demanding if they have never denied themselves before. Giving is awesome especially when you do it from your heart its no better feeling in the world than seeing someone totally elated and speechless. If we lived in a world where we all gave and had brotherly love for one another the world would be a much better place. War wouldn’t exist, crime wouldn’t exist, and there would be no need for guns and weapons. Love is what we all need to receive from someone and also give to someone else, you should always do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
            During the spring semester of 2010, I participated in a service project donating basic needs to soldiers at Camp Alamo. I choose Camp Alamo because most my family members have served, or have lost their lives serving. Over Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas lunches and Easter brunches, my uncles would tell us the stories of the war, the good and bad. Giving to camp Alamo was more than a grade to me, it was giving back to the soldiers who give to me.  All my life I have been reminded to never take advantage of the rights and freedom I have because without soldiers giving their lives, I would never have what I am blessed to have today. When packing my box to camp Alamo,I really had no idea what to pack. I decided to take my brother along with me to help me pack a “man box”. As a girl, I wanted to pack “cute” things, but my brother would not have that. He helped me chose things, that a guy like him, in a desert would miss about home.  I packed ramen noodles boiled peanuts, gummy worms, baby wipes, shower gel , socks and more. In my note I talked about my uncles, those who lost their lives, and those who lived to tell me stories that get retold every holiday dinner. Although, I thought my favorite part about the project I thought was going to be giving to the solider. It was when I received my thank you letter, that this project made a change in my life. I had never written to a solider before, I had always wanted to. I had always had my family to talk to and hear stories, but when a letter addressed to me from Camp Alamo when a solider wrote to tell me of his gratitude from what I had sent him. I shared my thank you letter, with pretty much anyone who knew how to read. It was sweet, and thoughtful, but most of all gave me an amazing gut wrenching laugh that I really needed. He told me that it was okay that I was not a blue-eyed, tan, blonde girl. That even though he thought that they were “really hot” and he had always wanted to “hookup” with one that brunette girls were pretty too. He also went on to tell me that he wanted to be just like my uncle, who has a pinup girl tattoo, because they are “super sexy” and he wants to get one as soon as he gets back.  I live for little things like that and I was the one who got the smile I wasn’t expecting from someone who wrote me a letter. He was from California, and did not speak all that great of English, which made it twice as precious to me. He is 19, a year younger than me and he is serving for his country. In some way this makes me feel so inferior, as I sit here on my parents couch in my air conditioned living room, watching One Tree Hill. He is sitting in a barricade, in extreme weather conditions, for me.  I went into this project thinking I was going to make a soldiers day, but I was wrong. His letter changed mine. I am so glad I participated in this service project, it came at a time where I thought I had nothing to give, but the lesson I learned is the small things, are the things that can changes lives, create smiles, and mend hearts. I could go on and on about what I did, for the soldiers in Camp Alamo, but that would not be what I gained from this service project. I feel like I gained so much more than what I gave to them from this experience. Dr Soldani’s AMH1050 class had a huge affect on me. It taught me to give, to receive and to smile.  I regret not participating in both service projects , I was amazed of the story and daily fight of David Lowe, and how it made me feel so pathetic for being upset about the small things that go wrong in my life, because in contract they don’t even skim the surface of what he has had to fight and rise above. I would like to thank Dr.Soldani for granting the opportunity to give in a way that would change lives,  even more so my own.

            When I first heard about the service projects I honestly thought that they were a little much to ask of us poor college students.  This selfish thinking soon gave way the more I thought about these men and women who have sacrificed more than most would ever give to keep America safe and strong.  I am 24 years old and I know most of the men and women in the service are somewhere around my age, but instead of enjoying all the things I take for granted, they are out there giving their time and very lives for me and the American right to be free.  It is one thing to say you support our troops, but Dr. Soldani showed us a way to take action and maybe make the lives of those who give so much maybe a little more comfortable. 
            I choose to send my gift box to the veterans at the hospital in Lakeland because they are the casualties of a war not of their making.  I hope that mine and the other gifts they received show them that no matter one’s beliefs on U.S. involvement in the Middle East we are grateful for what they have given and hopefully in time those who can will return to enjoy the freedom they truly have earned.  I also hope that besides a symbolic sense of care the gifts impart that they will also find use and bring some pleasure to the veterans.  I tried to buy most of the stuff for one or a few to be able to seriously freshen up for any visitors or just to feel good.  These items included manly smelling shampoo, an entire AXE hair set with other types of shampoo, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and manly smelling body wash.  To pass some time I also sent some min size tennis balls to devise any game of one’s choosing, and a price is right ( I think) game that is centered around a dvd so a lot of people can play at once.
            Included with the above listed items I sent a letter to the veterans so they might get to know the person on the other side of the box.  My letter told them things about myself like my age, what I was going to school for and some history.  I also thanked them for their service and sacrifice and then told them about a friend of mine who served as a medic in Iraq and how highly I hold the character of someone willing to fight for freedom.  I mentioned that my friend had seen horrific things during his tour but he took much more from his experiences and felt he was ultimately a stronger more self-disciplined person.  Among many things he taught me by example that every day is a gift and take nothing for granted.  He remains a close friend to this day even though we don’t live in the same city anymore.  Then I gave a list of the stuff I sent and told them they were a very special group who had a right to be happy. 
            Can any amount of boxes or thank-yous replace what these men and women have given?  I don’t think so, but maybe that wasn’t the point Dr. Soldani wanted to teach.  For some of us, we maybe had to sacrifice a few weeks beer money or a ticket to a concert.  These veterans and those currently serving abroad are giving every day so that their families and people at home don’t have to be exposed to something like a draft.  They volunteer to do this for any given reason and the least they should feel is appreciated and have some basic comforts and entertainment.  To me, this project was about being unselfish and getting involved in something real that can positively impact the life of a stranger who has already given more than a normal person likely ever will, because that is their job description.  Doing nothing is not an option if our current freedoms are to remain intact and perhaps grow in their own way to light those in the world who do not have what we have.

Austin Schlieper
Professor Dr. Soldani
29, April 2010
Service Project Essay
            In Professor Doctor Soldani’s class we were required to do a service project where we donated goods to veterans that served our country or to soldiers who are stationed in Afghanistan currently.  We were also asked to write a letter to the veterans or soldiers showing gratitude for what they have done or are doing for our country.
 I specifically chose to send items over to the soldiers stationed at Camp Alamo in Afghanistan because they are currently fighting for our country and these people are doing things that are going on in my lifetime and can personally affect me and other people of this country. I feel that the least I can do is show some appreciation for what they are doing. These people are giving up a lot of sacrifice by being over there.
 I know that they must need a lot of supplies that are not available to them in the Middle East that would be very comforting. I sent long work socks because I figured they would be more comfortable while wearing boots and their socks must get dirty very quickly being in a desert with sand and dirt everywhere. I also sent a lot of food such as candy, ramen noodles, oatmeal cookies, Gatorade packets, Kool Aid packets and multivitamins. Another item I sent was a new issue of ESPN the magazine because I am sure most of the men like sports and would like to be updated on what is going on in the American sports world. One of the last items I put inside the box was toothpaste and toothbrushes.
Inside the letter that was written, I described many qualities about myself and also told a small story about how my dad got to fly in an old bomber plane used in the Vietnam War. I told them about the different places I have lived such as Annapolis, MD, Orlando, FL, places in northern Virginia, and Washington DC.  I also included information about myself such as how I am transferring to Florida State University in the fall as a junior and will be starting classes for my major which is Political Science. In the story about my dad flying in an old bomber plane I also explained how he enjoys learning about the military and how some of his relatives served in the army. I finished my letter by stating thanks again for your service and sacrifice.
All in all, I feel this was a great project to get kids to get up and do something good for people who are putting their lives on the line everyday for Americans such as me. This project had good morals behind it and made you think about what kind of supplies soldiers and people serving our country might need over in the Middle East. It made me realize how they do not have access to every day supplies we use in the western hemisphere such as drinks and food and many other important items. Hopefully other students thought the same thing.

Alexandria Meyer
AMH 1050  MWF 10:10
The great feeling just a box can give.
            While sitting in class writing down the ID’s for that lecture, I remember Dr. Soldani explaining how a student Matthew Reel was once sitting in my seat and he is now currently stationed in Afghanistan with his platoon. When we were told about this I was reading the book Dear John, and by reading that book it showed me just how much the troops overseas really do need people over here in the states to show just how much we appreciate them and all they do for our freedom. So after getting a box from Dr. Soldani’s office and getting the mailing address I was ready to build a box for Matt’s Platoon.
            That night I told my roommate Kelsey about Camp Alamo and she loved the idea because her boyfriend is in the Army and he is stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. So when we went shopping for some goodies it was perfect timing because it was a week away from Valentine’s Day. So there was candy everywhere. At the end of my shopping I had starburst, valentine <3 4="" a="" and="" baby="" black="" blow="" gum="" of="" orbit="" pack="" pops="" smarties="" socks="" span="" toothbrushes="" wipes.="">  
My friend Chris who did two tours in Iraq said that black socks were essential to surviving. He told me stories that you sweat so much your socks get so sweaty and nasty that your toes start rubbing together and blisters form and it’s really gross. So socks are always needed.  My roommate gives her boyfriend Mikael baby wipes because he says that he goes days without showering because they are out on patrol and doing camp things. I figured they would also be an essential thing to stay clean. Chris said whatever I do don’t send toothpaste because they have more than enough toothpaste.  Apparently everyone just sends toothbrushes and toothpaste.  I sent all the candy for them to share. My favorite candy is the smarties and the starburst and I figured it would give a little color since Chris has said multiple times that all there is over there is sand. “There’s just a shit load of sand and then more sand.” I feel like a place that doesn’t have much color is like a depressing cloud even though it’s a rainy dark depressing cloud and a sunny sandy place there is still no beach. The darkness of feeling alone overseas must kill the ones who don’t have anyone on the other side of the world writing them or sending them packages. After sending my package to Camp Alamo it made me feel really good that I could help someone half way across the world. I don’t think I have the words to express the emotions I would feel if I got to see the guys open my box like its Christmas and read my letter and see my pictures I sent of me and my friends.
When I was younger in girl scouts they had us send boxes overseas for a community badge and at that age I had no idea exactly just what it meant. After about three weeks I came home from school and I had a fat letter from Sgt. Matthew Reel from Camp Alamo. I went crazy, I was so excited.  When I opened it there were five letters in there from the soldiers. I ran to Kelsey and showed her and we both were so excited and we started reading them. Once I told my mom and dad they thought it was awesome that I sent a box overseas and that I got letters back from the men which was a bonus.  Later that weekend Kelsey and I wrote back letters to all five guys who wrote us. It’s cool because we have pen pals now. I truly do believe that writing them helps them realize that we do appreciate their services in the United States military. Now that I am older and after taking your class I know that it is a big deal and it is my job as an American citizen to show my appreciation to those surrendering their lives to fight for mine and others.

Service Project: Camp Alamo
            At some point in the semester, can’t quite remember due to massive overload of Historical events that was drilled into our brains, the class was given an assignment. It was a service project of our choosing to either Camp Alamo, where young soldiers are stationed or at a local VA (Veterans) Hospital. The projects consisted of sending a U.S postal service box to either unit filled with comfort, unreachable, precious goodies due to their circumstances. It was a way of giving back to our war heroes, paying it forward with no expectations, selflessness, generosity, just a plain and simple “Thank You
            I decided to do my service project for Camp Alamo, I felt it was a more personal choice due to the fact that my dad is on active duty in the military (ARMY). My parents separated from the time I was about eleven, so although I didn’t live physically with him so long, I at least got to see him every day. Now that he’s been away in Washington, DC for nearly a year now the void, becomes more and more real each day. Our relationship is pretty close so any little thing that my father does for me is very much appreciated and hardly ever goes unnoticed. Sometimes all it takes is a simple “Thank you” card, a quick phone call to check up on one another, Fedex a tie on Father’s Day or sometimes all it takes is an “I love you”. And our troops overseas don’t have that kind of every day privilege, and sometime they may feel forgotten so by sending a small goodie package brings back hopefulness back I  their heart.
            Enclosed in the box I sent, I made sure to include a few items that they would enjoy such as GI JOE comic books from the 1980’s, an I-pod filled with the latest music, a set of socks that I bedazzled saying “Troopers Rock My Socks”, pack of Newport cigarettes, Tom Clancy’s “Rainbow Six”, a couple of Slim Jims, Honey Buns, Twizzlers, Juicy Fruit Gum, Raisins, Lays Stax Chips, Oatmeal packets, Gummy worms, Tootsie Pops, a couple of goofy photos of myself and a heartfelt letter describing myself. I also made sure to enclose stack of envelopes and a pack of stamps so they could either write home to their loved ones.
            In the letter that I sent I just explained who I was and gave them some insight on my personality. I also explained how much the project meant to me because of my father and also because of a long distant friend who is in the Navy and has been deployed for over two years now.  I made sure to express my love them and state how honored I was to have someone fight for my freedom. I understand the sacrifice and dedication it takes for them to stand in frontlines and risk a precious life. At times the small things is what makes our day the best it could ever be, so that fact that a stranger like me takes the time to show some kind of appreciation, makes the sacrifice all worthwhile. From comic books to several stick and Slim Jims, they could never feel prouder to be part of a country that’s takes pride in helping thy neighbor. Life isn’t easy here back home, but I’m sure it isn’t any easier being away in a foreign country. Missed Birthday, Christmas, Halloween, Anniversaries, etc there’s a moment where a person could never feel more of a stranger, being so far from home  where life is supposed to be familiar. There a sense of fear, nervousness, anticipation, guilt, a bit alienated even regret. Every chance I get, I try and pray for these soldiers and silently thank those that are here and gone. I pray for their family and hope for their safe return. I take the time to notice and pay attention to every detail of my life for I never know when ill be in a situation  where a shower could be my last, cheeseburger never tasted better, or the mere sensation of family by my side and smile across their face loving every moment spent together.

            In Dr. Soldanis history class, we had to do a service project for the soldiers that are fighting for our country. Our options were to send a care package over seas or give a bag of goodies to the veterans at the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. I chose to send a package over seas that consisted of different foods, cigarettes, pictures of me, and toiletries. I chose to send the package because I felt as if it would bring joy to all the soldiers over seas, and they would be grateful to finally receive thanks from the American people. I wrote the soldiers a letter that explained who I am, and why I wrote the letter. I told them that I was a student in Dr. Soldani’s class and how she encourages all of us to give back to the soldiers fighting for our freedom. I told them that they were doing a great job, and everyone over here at Tallahassee Community College greatly appreciates everything they are doing, and we want to honor them. I also wrote in my letter, that my uncle is over seas also and how I cant imagine what their families are going through because my Uncle has been over seas for over a year and half. I explained to them the affect that my Uncle has had on my family, and I hope that they know what they are doing for our country and for their families. I sent pictures of me and my friends so that they can see an example of what they are fighting for. I hope they know how greatly they are appreciated, and sending the letter and gifts helped me grateful that I live in a country full of freedom. This really had a great affect on me as well as the soldiers, because it made me feel more appreciative and made me think back on all the freedom I have in America by being able to hang out with my friends whenever I want, eat the foods I want, and be able to do basically anything I want. The letter I wrote to the soldiers impacted me greatly because it came from my heart and I discovered how much they truly have changed all of our lives. The things I put in the box were items that I knew they would appreciate. They do so much for this country, that I felt as if I should give something back to them. They fight for our freedom, so I feel as if everyone should send as much as they can to the soldiers who fight for us. The package took me about 45 minutes to make and came from my heart and soul. Making this package in forty five minutes made me realize that this time, compared to the time and energy they are spending over seas is nothing. I would like to do more for the men and women fighting for us, and this class made me realize how much I appreciate them because Dr. Soldani would go into depth and detail about all the things they have to do and the suffrage they are going through with housing, eating, and the lack there of. This project made me find out who I truly was, by giving back to the soldiers. Even though I am not taking this class next year I will most definitely be doing this project again, but not for a grade but for my self. This project made me feel really good about my self, because it made me feel not selfish but more of a grateful thing. I am honored I was assigned this project, and got to have the chance to tell people that I did give back to the soldiers over seas.

There are many ways to show that you care about someone either it a may be a family member or friend, but how both showing that love toward someone you do not know at all. Would it be easy to open up to that person, spend money, or give away something that really means a lot to you?  After I was given this project I was bit basis about sending my money on someone I do not know, or care about. The reason I felt that was because I believe they made that choice to go serve for this country. I took a lot of thinking and eye opening experience to realize that I needed to be a bigger person and do what is morally right. I actually enjoyed buying the stuff for our troops, because I got to put myself in their own shoes. What would I want them buying for me that I can actually put to use? From the toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush, snacks, and etc I had to connect with each one of those.  It was costly in my end, but I knew it was all going to a good cause so I had to brush that behind me. What really altered my mind was when the professor asked each of us to write a letter explain how we felt about the box and how we can connect. I was very confused and was at a lost on what I was going to write to about. So I went to my teachers’ office and she gave me a great topic to write about. I never really thought about how I having my brother in the navy really affected me. He is the first and only person in my entire family that is in the military. Coming from a background of Haitian and Cuban many parents do not understand why their child even bothers to join. A lot of Island natives do not believe in military, because it represents death and because they are not able to see the child on a regular basis. I honestly felt the same way. So when I was buying the items I imaged what my bother would have asked for and he a very pity person. After I filled the box and went to the post office I really felt I accomplished something deep inside. What really touched me was after a couple of week I received a letter back from the troops which was heart filling. I really didn’t expected that whatsoever. It really showed that they appreciated what I had done and they took their time out off of fighting for our country to show they really appreciate what I had done. This project has opened my eyes tremendously. The time spent and the love filled into those boxes is what really count at the end of the day. I believe many of my peers loved doing the project and would not mind doing it again in a heart.  This project show many different characteristics in a person to even do this project.  It also takes a great teacher to give a project like this to a bunch of college student on a budget, so she can see who wears their heart on their sleeves.
This semester I was given the opportunity to give back to the men and woman who serve and protect our country. When our troops are deployed overseas they face a very trying and stressful time for however long there unit is stationed in country. The fact of the matter is that they sacrifice a lot to preserve our way of life and face the possibility of dying in defense of it the of it. All these men and woman volunteered to be a part of the greatest military in world history. The United States has made sure that our troops are issued the best equipment and are trained to the highest of standards. This means that when they engage an opponent they win. After they are done dealing with insurgents and IED’s they come back to base where home to them is a prefabricated trailer in the middle of the dessert. Certain creature comforts that the average person takes for granted here such as: running water, A/C, and privacy just to name a few are not available in the mountains of Afghanistan and the desserts of Iraq. So through Dr. Soldani I was able to send a care package with some items in it to help make their daily existence a little more bearable.
Having family in the military and hoping to join myself I had an idea from listening to their stories of what things they lacked or needed the most. So with a college budget I went to walmart searching for the correct set of items to make some soldiers day just a little better. From what I’m told by those I’ve known in the armed forces one of the biggest complaints they have while deployed is the food. While on patrol they usually eat massed produced prepackaged meal is designed to be able to survive any environment for years without spoiling known as a MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) its sole purpose is to provide the soldier with all the essential nutrients needed to keep him going. Needless to say the quality and flavor suffer, so my first purchase was something that could survive the shipping process and be taken outside the wire on patrol with some soldier and enjoyed without being complicated. After some deliberation I settled on Chef Boy Ardie. With this accomplished I looked for some of the products men use on a day to day basis  I got razors for shaving, shaving cream, deodorant, baby wipes (while on patrol they don’t shower so they use baby wipes just to clean up a little), and scope. I figured that after being out in 110 degree heat and being shot at all day it would probably be nice to clean up after words.  With that covered I considered the amount of free time they have when they’re just hanging out on base and thought that they probably would want something to help them pass the time so I bought them a football, some playing cards, a checkers/chess board, and some magazines.
With the box filled and ready to go I just had to finish my letter. I basically just told them a little about myself, how I appreciated the job they were doing, and that they come home soon and safely. After finishing the letter I packaged everything up so it would reach their intact and mailed it out. The sense of pride that I felt knowing what I had done far outweighed what the project was worth in the class. It is defiantly the most personally rewarding assignment I’ve done. I have told people of this assignment and I’m usually told that I wasted my money and should have saved and spent it on myself. And every time I here this I’m shocked and at a loss for words. I can’t understand how the vast majority of the American population takes for granted the freedoms and opportunities available to us. They can’t comprehend that there is a price for freedom and it’s paid in blood. Knowing this the few dollars I spent doing the assignment was well spent.

                       Many of us have had a certain connection with a soldier whether it was a family member, friend, or acquaintance. I have never met or have known of one until my enrollment in AMH 1041 with Dr.Soldani. On January 28, 2010 Dr.Soldani gave us an opportunity to do a service project that involved buying soldiers some very useful and practical items. This was a project I had never heard of but it really felt good to be able to be doing for someone that was doing way more for me, my country, and saving the peace for future Americans. It was important to buy the soldiers necessary items that they would value. We had the choice of sending two boxes, one in the beginning and the other at end of the semester. We also had to write them a letter and mail it within the box showing them our gratitude and support. This project was not only going to benefit and perhaps alleviate a group of soldiers’ lives for a while but it thankfully affected mine too.

During the year there are multiple chances that one has to send a box to either the soldiers that are currently on a tour, or to someone at the VA Hospital. This is a great thing, and I am so happy that she offered this to us as a grade. To be honest it is real sad, but I would never have even thought about sending a box to people on a tour or to the veterans in the VA Hospital. Due to the fact that this would help us out in her class, I made sure I did it. It made me feel so much better. I was actually mad at myself because I knew I would have never considered doing that before. I plan on taking more things during summer to the VA Hospital. It is such a great gift to be able to give a gift. I truly feel like a better person now.
She surprisingly has changed me when it comes to giving. I have always been the type of person that doesn’t do anything for anyone else if I know it will not help me in a way. I was a very selfish boy. Ever since I have done this project I have been a much more giving person. I guess the reality is that once you know how good it feels to give, you want to keep giving to others.
In this service project we had the choice of either sending a box to the soldiers on tour in Iraq with different non-perishable goods that they would enjoy. The other option that was offered was to make some type of gift box or bag and put bathing things, board games, magazines and much more. Regardless of the service project that the student chooses, he or she must also write a 1 page letter (typed or handwritten). I ended up doing a handwritten letter because to me personally it felt more personal. There is nothing better than opening a letter to you from someone that cares, and to me it’s even better if it is in their own handwriting. You can even tell a lot about a person through their handwriting, so it helps them know you. We also had the option of including a picture of ourselves. I decided to put a picture of me smiling and giving a thumbs up, because I thought I looked funny and figured it would bring a little laughter to the person’s life.
In this letter I introduced myself. I stated my name and where I was born and where my family comes from. I was able to talk about how my life was and currently is and how I got to where I am today (college). It is an interesting story being that I am a 1st generation college student in my family. I then told them how grateful I am that there are people like them that are willing to risk their lives for the people at home (United States of America). I have a cousin who is married to someone that was in the military and had come back about 5 years ago. It is a good story to hear, and shows that I am somewhat aware of how hard it is on the family to be missing someone for such a long time. He is now back and happy to be back.
The reason I chose the service project that went to the VA Hospital over the service project that went to the soldiers on tour in Iraq, was because I felt worse for the people that were already on a tour and were injured. The way I see it is, the soldiers that are currently on tour now, are perfectly fine and healthy, but the ones in the VA Hospital, may be facing severe injuries, or may have gotten paralyzed or even worse, are in the process of dying. The people in the VA Hospital are the people that need the most hope; they are facing sad times in their lives. They were hurt trying to protect us, all of us. In my opinion, if they were willing to fight for our lives and were injured, we should all be more than willing to help them and make them as comfortable as possible, even if the only thing we can give them is hope, which is still good.
In Dr. Soldani’s class, you will do a service project. You will receive 100$ for the “box” you send. One box goes to the VA Hospital, and the other goes to Afghanistan. It’s your choice to pick which one you would like to do. Either box goes to a former student of Dr Soldani’s. This is a nice, thoughtful way to give back to our troops.

            For the service project, I did both. I received 200$ and one letter grade. The box I sent to Matthew Reel in Afghanistan had a variety of things in it. I sent beef jerky, wipes, razors, shaving jell, tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant, noodles, and of course, pictures of me! It actually felt really good sending a box to a troop. I felt very supportive, and thankful. In the box, I also included a letter (which is sprayed with perfume).  My letter said:

            To my soldier.

                        Matthew Reel, thank you so much for everything. You are truly my hero. There is no way I could ever thank you enough for everything you do for me, and our country. I am Kallie Papadimitriou from Dr. Soldani‚Äôs class. I‚Äôve heard a lot about you. As a part of my service grade I am sending you this box. I‚Äôm 19 years old and I‚Äôm the middle child out of  5 kids. I‚Äôm Greek, and have a big Greek family. I‚Äôm originally from Tampa, Fl. And I‚Äôm here in Tallahassee going to school. Where are you from? Do you have brothers and sisters as well? Do you play any sports. What are your hobbies? I have a cousin in Iraq right now serving as well. Every night when I pray for him, I will be thinking of you too. I hope you enjoy your care package with all the goodies I sent you. I also hope that you write me a letter back. I would love to hear from you. Like I said, I cannot thank you and everyone there enough for what you all do. You are amazing‚Ķ

(That’s all I can remember from memory).

            Matthew Reel did receive my package and wrote me back. I was so happy in class when I got a letter back from him! I felt so good inside, Like I really did help someone. You will too I‚Äôm sure. The pictures I sent to Matthew are hanging inside his room. I saw them on face book. (Yes, add him as your friend!)

            The reason I choose to do both the boxes was because I didn‚Äôt want to choose one over the other, also it was an easy way for extra money. Dr. Soldani not only gives you a grade for helping the troops, but it‚Äôs something you should do anyways‚Ķeven if you didn‚Äôt have to do it. It was great to become Matthew Reels friend on face book because I got to see how appreciative he was about our boxes! He even posted pictures up.

            Unfortunately, I didn‚Äôt get to meet David Low who is in the VA hospital, but I sure hoped he enjoyed what I gave to him. Things such as checkers, chess, card games, chocolate, magazines, word searches, and hygiene products were put in his box. Although I didn‚Äôt get to be the one to deliver his presents, I heard about how happy he was and how much he enjoyed everything.

            I also wrote David Low a letter. I didn‚Äôt save this letter onto my computer but I wrote briefly about myself. Also, I told David that if he ever needs anything else to write me back asking me for it. I told David about a family member I had in the hospital for 3 years. I told David to get well soon so we could have classes together at TCC.

            It‚Äôs truly amazing how you can feel after doing your ‚Äúhomework‚Äù. This project made me realize what I had to be thankful for in life. I‚Äôm healthy, able to attend school, and happy. I highly recommend the upcoming students to do both these projects. Not only is it worth Dr. Soldani‚Äôs fake money, but it‚Äôs worth the feeling it gives you.

This semester I decided to complete both extra credit service projects (mostly because I needed the “money” but it made me feel good about myself as well.) but the one that I enjoyed the most was the second project “Ransoming David.” I liked this one a little bit more because it was less work than the whole, get a box, fill it with a bunch of stuff like socks, razors, pictures of naked women, and a letter, go to the post office, fill out a bazillion forms and wait in a huge line, pay even more money to ship it, etc. process of the first project.
For the second project, all I had to do was make a stop five minutes down the street at Wal-Mart and pick up some random art supplies including a sketch book, colored pencils, markers, crayons, and a pencil/crayon sharpener, a board game (Monopoly, of course, because it reminded me of Dr. Soldani’s money game!) and a ten dollar gift card. It was sooo easy and I was almost tempted to buy myself some crayons at the same time seeing as how I haven’t colored anything in years! But I didn’t because I didn’t want to feel selfish. I was at Wal-Mart to brighten someone else’s day which, in turn, would brighten my own, even if I didn’t go home with a fresh, unused pack of 96 crayolas with this awesome built in sharpener in the back that I have wanted pretty much my entire life but my mother never bought me because she felt like all of those colors were unnecessary. But I digress. 
Anyway, I also included a cute little letter in a cute little envelope in which I introduced myself and stated a few things about my life including my age, where I went to school, and my major. I also included a story about my grandfather who was in WWII and the Korean War. I explained how he likes to tell his “war stories” at almost every family gathering we have. (He’s inching pretty close to 90, sometimes I feel like those are the only things left in his head that he can remember. ) I also thanked them for everything they have done for our country, hoped they were having a good day, and signed off wishing they enjoyed my gifts. But of course I sprayed just a little perfume on it before I tucked it into the envelope because, come on, what respectable girl doesn’t spray pretty much everything  (herself, pets, notes, the bathroom, her boyfriend, etc.) with a little perfume to make it smell a little better? I know I do.
My mom has always been a very giving person. She has pretty much been a full-time volunteer her entire life at various schools, churches, centers, etc. When I was little, I never understood the fact that she would work her ass off for nothing in return. Of course, at that age, feeling selfless wasn’t something I could relate to, as all children are selfish creatures. She would try to explain that she didn’t need anything but to see people’s appreciation and spread love (she was somewhat of a hippie in her day. She was also a playboy bunny but that’s irrelevant; just a fun fact.) But she turned her life around and gave herself to God and all of this love and forgiveness and emotional reward stuff and I never understood it. But now I do. I felt good when I was at Wal-Mart, hand-picking out gifts for people that I knew would be so appreciative of everything they received. Of course I picked out the best stuff (Crayola is way better than RoseArt. No one wants RoseArt crayons.) So I splurged the fifty cents and bought the legit art supplies. And I felt good about it. (Being a poor college student, $0.50 IS splurging. That’s the equivalent of half a meal at Taco Bell!) And I know that they will love every second of coloring and “staying in the lines” and pretending to be kids again, because everyone loves pretending to not have a care in the world. But I also bought them a gift card so they can buy cigarettes of their choice and feel like a grownup while they color their cute animals and such. It makes me feel good just thinking about it. Thank you, Dr. Soldani, for giving me this opportunity and not only rewarding me with “money” but also with a feeling of selflessness.

Essay # 3

            During the semester there is a required Service Project. You are asked to donate a care package to either the Veterans Hospital or Camp Alamo in Afghanistan.  You are also required to write a letter describing yourself and saying thank you to the recipient for their services to the United States. In the letter you must also included a story about a veteran or current person in the military and how they influence you. The project is worth 10 points of your final grade but you receive $100 (of class money) to put towards other assignments or exams in the class.
            I chose to send a box to Camp Alamo in Afghanistan because it is important to boost the morale of the soldiers overseas. It was also important to me to send a box to a deployed soldier because I have had several friends that joined the military after high school and I know form their experience how hard it has to be to be over there and away from friends and family. I wanted to show the soldiers that even though it’s tough for them we truly appreciate their services for our country.
            The items I sent included a self care kit. For example, soap, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and other item s along those lines. Then I included some snacks such as beef jerky and ramen noodles. Lastly, I added in some other goodies such as a Playboy and some sox. Of course we were asked to write a letter and that was included in the box I sent.
            In the letter I gave my name, a brief description of my personal life, and my gratitude for their services overseas and at home to keep our country safe. I also included how I had many friends in the military. However the majority of my letter was a story about an elderly man in the nursing home I work at that talked about his experience in the Navy during World War II which touched my heart in a big way and had a lot of influence on my choice to send a box to Afghanistan.
            Although the project is paid for out of pocket it creates a great opportunity for you to show your gratitude towards the men and women who have served our country in the past, and the ones who are serving it today. It is also an important aspect of the class because it is a history class. Throughout the class we learn about many wars over the course of history and how it has affected the men and women who served. The history behind what we have learned comes in handy when writing the letter to the recipient and also in choosing what kind of items to include in the care package.