Student assembles care packages for soldiers serving overseas, provides comforts from home

Taylor Yeazel, Circulations Manager

He’s on the other side of the world — a soldier serving his country.
In the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, he lives in a room crowded with bunk beds. The other soldiers in his unit come from various parts of the U.S. One man from Africa serves alongside them.
Most of his time is spent with the citizens of Afghanistan. He and the other soldiers patrol the region for hours upon hours.
They will serve together for a year, and it’s been seven months thus far.
To him and his fellow soldiers, little comforts from home, like pens, magazines or fudge, mean the world.
Junior Katie Campbell organized a drive to send Sean Beland and his fellow soldiers care packages. Beland graduated from BV West in 2009.
Katie’s sister, Emily Campbell, a 2009 BV graduate, prompted Katie to organize the drive when she was preparing to send a care package to her friend, Beland.
Via Skype, Katie asked Beland about items that were either needed or just nice to have. She said although each item is appreciated, if the soldiers don’t see a direct need for the donation, it will be given to the citizens of Afghanistan.
“He did mention that they will use anything that they do get,” Katie said. “He said he was even using girl’s foot lotion, which I thought was hilarious. He mentioned that the kids are always stealing their ink pens, which is why the pens are so important because the people over there aren’t technologically advanced, and that’s kind of wild.”
Chris Campbell, Katie’s father, said Katie wanted to help bring all of the soldiers in Beland’s unit some comfort.
“I think that once she found the things that they really like — pens, baby wipes, DVDs — these are little things that just about everybody where we live has,” he said. “She thought it was kind of silly that we couldn’t find a way to make their existence, if you will, a little bit more comfortable.”
Chris said once Katie heard about Beland and his fellow soldiers’ situation, she felt a need to help in any way she could.
“Katie likes doing things for people, particularly things that might carry some kind of positive value,” Chris said. “I was in the military a long time ago. We’ve talked about the places I went and things like that, so they have a bit of an idea that little things help. When you’re away … in a combat environment, little comforts from home can help.”
Though he’s never been in a combat zone, Chris said receiving something from home when he was serving meant a lot.
“I mean, you’re talking about pens,” he said. “Pens are a big deal over there or baby wipes and little pieces of candy. It’s a connection to home. Just the idea that someone took the time to send you something from halfway around the world, that means a lot to someone in their positions.”
When Katie decided to spread the word and collect more items, she utilized Facebook to solicit donations and also asked social studies teacher Jessica Janish if she would help out.
Katie said the experience has taught her a lot about how important the little things are.
“It makes me feel good to be able to do something like this for someone else that is giving up so much to take care of others,” she said. “I think, in that way, it’s taught me a lot about how much just even showing your support, not even sending anything, but just telling someone that you do support them and you do care about them can affect someone. I think that’s really big, and a lot of people don’t realize that.”
Katie said she believes, whether people support the war effort or not, people should support the soldiers because they’re American citizens.
“When I was talking to Sean over Skype, it was, I don’t know, kind of surreal because he looked so normal,” she said. “He’s so young. It just reminded me of any of the guys at this school all of a sudden being over there, any of my friends being over there or my cousin. It just kind of hit me really hard that it could be anyone. I figured it’s important to support that and to make sure that they feel like they are doing something for a good cause over there. Sean mentioned that it’s hard to feel like people are supporting you when you’re not around them all the time. When you’re not back in your own country, it gets easy to forget that there is support for you out there, and I think it’s important for people to realize how much they can affect others.”