A group of 53 soldiers with the 3rd ACR Lightning Troop will have quite a surprise when they come home for the holidays this year. And it won’t be just turkey.
Sam Houston State University, along with the parents of single soldiers, gathered together and worked hand-in-hand with area businesses to host a donation drive to greet soldiers coming home from Iraq with a basket of donated gifts.
Pamela Zelbst, a professor in the Management and Marketing Department, is the parent of a soldier coming home for the holidays, and can relate to the scary thought of an empty-handed soldier arriving with no arms to greet them.
“It’s nerve racking,” Zelbst said. “I have two sons, one came back not long ago, but I wasn’t able to greet him, his fianc was but I couldn’t. The other is coming back. Parents wanted to know if Sam Houston would be doing anything. So Ms. Claudia Davis said ‘Why don’t we do a drive?'”
Victor Sower, Claudia Davis, and Pamela Zelbst hosted the drive at SHSU held from September-October for the troops coming home from mid-December through the end of January.
“Items that included toothpaste, deodorant[were donated]. Screen Dreams gave 53 t-shirts, Comfort Suites donated shampoo and conditioner, and there was a dentist that donated toothbrushes. We were able to provide everything on the list,” Zelbst said.
The soldiers will also be receiving gift certificates from restaurants and a theater, in the basket. Grateful for the success of the drive, Zelbst believes this is the start of many more donation drives to come for soldiers.
“We had enough items that we were able to pay it forward to the next troops,” Zelbst said. I do think there will be more to come. [We would] love to start that if parents want to contact us. We want to make a proposal to a large corporation like Wal-mart.”