Jenna Werfel

In an effort to help American soldiers serving in Iraq keep their morale levels high, one junior marketing major at Miami University is starting her own letter-writing campaign.

Hillary Kelly is currently in the process of creating a new organization on campus where students write letters to soldiers overseas. Students would be developing a pen pal type relationship with these soldiers and be writing to them on average once a week.

Each student involved would be assigned the name of a soldier and an address to reach them at.

“I am looking for people who are willing and dedicated to sticking with it,” Kelly said.

Kelly said she hopes other students on campus will want to join this organization because of the significance the Iraq war has played in the lives of the college-age generation.

Kelly’s incentive to start this group grew out by a desire to get involved in a new activity. After talking with marketing professor, David Rosenthal, she decided that this organization would be most beneficial and have a positive impact for all included.

Kelly also said she knows someone from high school who is serving overseas and figures many other students might know someone as well.

“I really want to get the word out there to support the troops because I think this is such an important cause,” Kelly said.

Kelly said she plans on starting with a smaller group of students and hopes eventually more people will want to get involved. Eventually, Kelly hopes that enough people get involved that they can send care packages to soldiers as well.

So far, Kelly has begun contacting members of the Greek community through e-mails and said there has been a good response, with at least 75 students showing an interest.

Since her campaign is still new, there haven’t been any meetings scheduled, but Kelly said once all gets moving she will hold regular meetings.

Right now, Kelly is working with a list of about 150 soldiers who have lost people close to them and do not have much support from home. This list was compiled with the help of Rosenthal.

Blue Star Mothers, a nonprofit organization in Oxford, has a similar mission as Kelly and according to president and founder Marilyn Ballman since December 2006, the group has sent more than 100 care packages to soldiers serving overseas.

“Our organization is a support for soldiers who don’t get any support,” Ballman said. “… When (soldiers) get a package or letter, they also share it with other soldiers.”

Ballman explained that it doesn’t matter what a solider receives, either a package or a letter, as it is a piece of home.

Junior mass communications major Alison O’Hara said she would be interested in helping out with this project and thinks it could become popular all over campus.

“I’m sure a lot of people would be really interested in joining this organization,” O’Hara said. “(First because) it’s a great thing to do, but also because a lot of people know at least one person overseas and this could be a great way of keeping in contact.”

Junior finance major Katherine Brozen said she would be interested in participating in the letter-writing project as well.

“I would love to get involved in something like this,” Brozen said. “I haven’t heard anything about it yet, but I think it would be a great opportunity.”

Over the summer, Kelly hopes that students continue writing to soldiers. She plans on sending out e-mails as reminders, since she recognizes that it is hard for students to keep up with things over the summer.

Next year, Kelly hopes even more people will get involved so that the organization can adopt more soldiers.

For more information about the on-campus letter-writing group, e-mail Kelly at kellyhc@muohio.edu.

Additional reporting contributed by Stacey Skotzko.

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