The University of North Texas at Dallas Student Veterans Association (SVA) packed over 40 boxes full of goods for the holidays and shipped them to active duty military deployed overseas. This effort was coordinated by SVA President Carol Ruiz, and student veterans also raised funds with an outpouring of support from across campus.

Each box included a personalized letter from UNT Dallas student veterans as they gathered together to complete the boxes. While the care packages were packed full, they also included items perhaps not typically included that the recipients would appreciate, such as socks and the personal grooming items that are difficult to access when deployed.

Ruiz, a U.S. Army veteran previously deployed in Iraq, said when the student veterans originally came up with the plan to create holiday care packages, it was a way to say, “we know what you are going through,” and the inspiration behind each package came from a combat veteran who also thought, “this is what I would have liked to have received.”

“The veterans believe they are the best people to pack these boxes for the troops because they understand first-hand what troops are expecting in a care package, and socks are not one of those things!” said Nekira Carter, a graduate assistant at UNT Dallas who was heavily involved in the process.

Faculty, students and staff pledged money to help complete the packages, and each box also had UNT Dallas gear. Student Affairs staff and UNT Dallas Student Logistics under Dr. Subhro Mitra also assisted in the effort.

Student veteran Adrian Pineda visited the Junior ROTC programs of local high schools, and they contributed 200 letters for the packages. Extra letters were given to Porter’s Army Surplus in Irving, who assisted in logistic details with this effort and also puts together care packages for other deployed units overseas.  

The UNT Dallas Student Veterans Association supports student veterans in their transition into higher education and civilian life. Ruiz earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 2016, and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

The SVA is committed to putting together additional care packages for deployed military throughout the year.