Shirts for Soldiers a team effort
Jarrett Yehlen and Paul Sobiech help pack the Shirts for Soldiers for shipping.
"It has truly been a pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful effort," is how Jarrett Yehlen recently ended a note regarding coordination of the NIRSA-endorsed Shirts for Soldiers project. As of October 26, Shirts for Soldiers has accumulated nearly 500 t-shirts and the numbers are climbing.
Shirts for Soldiers is the brainchild of Ben McGuire, Assistant Director at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. In his request for endorsement from the NIRSA Board of Directors, McGuire explained that in the desert heat, dry shirts are a precious commodity. He said of soldiers on the frontline in Iraq: "Many of the units are composed of young people from our campuses because so many of them are from Guard and Reserve units where they used that service to get them through school." McGuire gained NIRSA support for Shirts for Soldiers during the NIRSA Board of Directors teleconference on August 2, 2005.
An eFASTNEWS item followed, suggesting that NIRSA Members wanting to participate should send 5 shirts from their recreation programs to LSU; those shirts would be collected and then forwarded to frontline units in Iraq. The shirts started to pile up quickly at LSU.
However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, McGuire, along with others at LSU Campus Recreation, had to change their focus to providing shelter for evacuees.
That's when NIRSA's eFASTNEWS issued a request for another campus to take over the project. A number of Members stepped up to the plate but it was Jarrett Yehlen, Assistant Director at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, who was the first to step up. McGuire shipped the shirts from Baton Rouge to Yehlen in Minneapolis and, with the help of the University of Minnesota ROTC unit, the shirts are expected to ship out on October 28 to US military personnel in Iraq.
In the words of Ben McGuire, "we are a team of professionals dedicated to improving the emotional, physical and social welfare of those we serve." Hundreds of frontline soldiers in Iraq are about to feel a bit of that dedication first hand when they receive a t-shirt from the NIRSA-endorsed Shirts for Soldiers project.