Rowan University’s Military Services Office is running a drive for Operation Yellow Ribbon for the entire month of March. Items collected in the drive will be used to create care packages for active-duty military members serving in the Middle East. This is the first year Rowan has taken part in a collection for the group.
Operation Yellow Ribbon is a registered charitable organization and official nonprofit. They are run exclusively by volunteers and work with a variety of schools, businesses and places of worship throughout the South Jersey area to run drives, collect items and hold fundraisers. According to their website, the organization has sent out 182 care packages and 5,987 pounds worth of goods to overseas troops this year so far.
Dave Silver, who runs Operation Yellow Ribbon said, “Those care packages include items we take for granted here. You just walk into a ShopRite or a Target or buy on Amazon and have it delivered that day, and they don’t have access to that stuff.”
Besides creating and sending care packages, Operation Yellow Ribbon also helps organize welcome home events and parties for troops returning home to South Jersey from overseas. The organization partners with Warriors’ Watch Riders, a group with the mission of helping military families hold fundraisers, provide a motorcycle escort at or to events or hold send-off and return celebrations. Both organizations include in their mission statements a commitment to having those returning from military service welcomed in “rock star fashion.”
According to Beth Sosnoski, coordinator and school certifying official of the military services office, the university has 717 military-affiliated students for the spring 2023 semester. This means that these students could be service members, veterans, reservists, dependents or family members of service members, and a number of other situational possibilities.
“It is an easy way to give back to those that are serving our nation and show our support… It continues to show that Rowan and the campus community are supportive of our military students,” said Sosnoski on why students should get involved with the drive.
The requested items include mostly dry snack foods with long shelf lives: canned potato chips and trail mix, gum and candy-like Twizzlers, energy drink products like Mio and 5-Hour Energy, protein and breakfast bars, toiletries and self-care items such as sunscreen, loofahs and sanitary pads, and crossword or puzzle books.
Operation Yellow Ribbon is running a larger community effort called the “Fill a School Bus” event to fill two to three school buses, donated by the Lenape Regional High School district, with care packages on April 2.
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