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HOMEFRONT Initiative Prepares Holiday Care Packages for Troops

by Brad Duncan

photo of HOMEFRONT Holiday Packages
UK student Morgan Lacy makes a holiday card for inclusion in the care packages being sent to troops overseas as part of the HOMEFRONT initiative.

When freshman Morgan Lacy arrived on campus in the Fall of 2010 she had an idea. A self-proclaimed “Army Brat,” Lacy knew that military personnel stationed overseas often missed the comforts of home, whether that be a favorite candy, books to read or just a note from a loved one. In an effort to help provide these types of items to the troops, she contacted University of Kentucky First Lady Patsy Todd about the possibility of putting together a university-wide care package drive.

One thing led to another and Lacy was put in touch with UK College of Education Assistant Professor Laurie Henry, who had helped form a new initiative on campus called HOMEFRONT (Honoring Our Military through Education: Flexible Recruitment of New Teachers). Henry and Lacy worked together late in the Fall semester to get out 10 care packages.

They held a workshop in Dickey Hall where faculty, staff and students gathered to fill the packages with items such as granola bars, candy, mints, lip balm, powdered drink mixes for bottled water and holiday cards. Some of the participants created their own cards, while elementary education student Kristin Wallingford coordinated a letter writing effort in local elementary schools.

“I received care packages from family members while serving in the Air Force,” Henry said. “I was always exciting to receive something that reminded me of home. When stationed overseas, I remember the enjoyment of receiving favorite ‘American’ snacks, candy and other items that weren’t available at my duty station.”

Part of the UK College of Education’s Kentucky P20 College & Career Readiness Lab, HOMEFRONT focuses on the recruitment of new teachers through federally funded programs (such as Troops to Teachers and the Post-9/11 GI Bill Education Benefits) to attract active duty and military veterans beginning or continuing their college education. This college transition effort, in partnership with the UK Veteran’s Resource Center, supports military personnel interested in a career track in the continuation or completion of an undergraduate educational program or those interested in graduate education programs. In October, President Lee T. Todd, Jr., and his wife, Patsy, held a reception at Maxwell Place to honor the program.

“I want to thank the College of Education faculty, staff and students who donated to this effort,” Henry said. “Carol Eades at the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development donated enough money to cover the shipping costs. We were able to send three packages to family members of our college community in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. The other seven were shipped to military units in these regions. We partnered with the Military Missions project to ship the packages with the assistance of (College of Education staff member) Judy Blackburn.”

For more information on HOMEFRONT, please contact Henry at LaurieHenry@nulluky.edu.