LA PLATA, Md. (November 2, 2011)—College of Southern Maryland students are collecting items that reflect the spirit of Southern Maryland for local military members serving abroad during the holidays.
"We want the troops to feel a little sense of home over the holidays," said CSM Professor Barbara Link of the service learning project idea suggested by her neighbor which was developed and implemented by Link's Communication 1010 students. Service-learning at CSM combines service to the community with student learning in ways that benefit both the student and the community.
Link's students are calling their effort Project H.O.M.E.S. (Honoring of Military Excellence in Southern Maryland) and have received support from schools, businesses and non-profits.
"It is very rewarding to see the community coming together to help those who are missing Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families while serving their country," said CSM student Anne Bailey of Lexington Park who added that while serving in the Navy she missed many family holiday celebrations herself.
The project started with students contacting organizations around Leonardtown and by early October, Link's desk was overflowing with donated items from Park Hall Elementary School, NAVAIR, the Naval Air Museum, Captain Pat's Seafood Restaurant, Crabknockers Seafood Market and Texas Roadhouse.
"Since then, the project has taken on a life of its own," said Link of the community support that has propelled the project to grow throughout Southern Maryland, and beyond.
Since the project began, CSM students have collected Maryland themed pencils, postcards, note paper and photos, small U.S. flags, balsa wood gliders, candies in patriotic wrapping and personal-sized toiletries. Elementary students are crafting fall foliage art, decorative bottles containing sand from Southern Maryland beaches and crab shell ornaments.
Donated items should represent Southern Maryland and can be homemade crafts, handwritten cards and letters of support, photos of local landmarks and personal-sized toiletries. Organizers also want to send some of the flavors of Southern Maryland such as Old Bay Seasoning, adding that only nonperishable food items will be sent overseas.
Students hope that they can collect enough items and postage to send out 100 boxes. "One hundred boxes to 100 servicemen and women is our goal," said Bailey. "I think we will have more than that-and that would be awesome."
Donation drop-off boxes are located in the College Stores on the La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses through Dec. 9. CSM students and volunteers will pack boxes the first week of December.
At the conclusion of the project, Link's students will write essays on what working on the project meant to them, said CSM student Roman Roach of Mechanicsville, who added that combining learning with life experiences is a good idea.
"Our hope is that we can fill boxes with mementoes and treats to show those serving abroad that the folks back home care about them and that they are not forgotten," Link said.
In addition to donations of items, proceeds from ticket sales to the Nov. 4 Connections Literary Series reading of CSM Professor Wayne Karlin's book, "Wandering Souls," will be donated to Project H.O.M.E.S. The reading and discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Business and Industry (BI) Building on the La Plata Campus.
For information on the Connections Literary event, visit http://www.csmd.edu/connections/.
For information, or to schedule a donation pick-up, contact Link at 240-725-5455, balink(at)csmd.edu.