ATSA sends care packages overseas

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Each year, the Athletic Training Student Association makes heartfelt differences in the lives of American heroes by sending care packages to military personnel serving the United States of America.

Since 2008, the group has mailed nearly 100 packages, proving successful in their mission to keep the deployed troops encouraged and to remind soldiers that the civilians back home are grateful for their service.

This year, the students raised nearly $500 in six hours while collecting donations in the local community. They also hosted donation drives on campus, requesting items that the soldiers want but do not always have access to, such as batteries, freeze pops, magazines, playing cards, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, among other items.

“It's the least we can do for these people, whether we know them or not,” said Matthew Kabay, junior athletic training major from Waynesburg, Pa., and son of Michele Kabay, director of the University's athletic training program. “Ultimately, they are the ones fighting for our safety.”

Currently, Michele Kabay's other two sons, Joshua and Patrick, are serving in the United States Marine Corps.

Sending a touch of home to those who are deployed, the students plan to continue the tradition for as long as members of the United States military are deployed overseas.

“Although many troops have come home, there are others still deployed and dying for their country,” said Doven Schwanke, sophomore athletic training major from Russel, Pa.

The project began four years ago, when several individuals in the athletic training program had connections to military personnel serving overseas. Lauren Buzonos, then a junior athletic training student whose brother was a Marine serving in Afghanistan, spearheaded the first year's project. All packages are mailed to soldiers with a connection to Waynesburg University.

While the students do not expect responses to the letters they include in their packages, once in a while they hear back from individuals on the receiving-end.

“As much as people like to thank soldiers, we really wouldn't be able to do our jobs without people like you back home supporting us,” wrote one soldier who had received a box from the students. “So really, you deserve just as much gratitude.”