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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

SG cabinet sponsors collection for overseas soldiers

By collecting donations to be sent overseas, UF students will soon have the opportunity to reach out to fellow Gators serving in the military.

Project SLOSH, or Sending Love to Our Serving Heroes, a new organization sponsored by Student Government's Community Involvement Cabinet, is collecting donations to send to soldiers before the end of the fall semester.

"A lot of students don't realize what people our age have sacrificed," said Erica Rakow, an assistant director for the cabinet. "We hope this project will bring awareness about young soldiers serving overseas."

The cabinet is asking students to donate toiletries such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap and razors. Nonperishable snacks like jerky, cookies and nuts are also requested, Rakow said.

The idea for the project arose after a corporal, currently serving in Iraq, e-mailed the UF University Athletic Association asking UF to sponsor his unit.

He didn't ask for money but wrote that "it's the simple things in life that make our life a little easier." The main collection area is on Turlington Plaza on Thursday and Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Students who are unable to bring their donations to the plaza can drop them off in the SG office in a designated bin. The cabinet will collect items until Thanksgiving and plans to ship them in time for the holidays, Rakow said.

The cabinet has already had some success in collections. Members of Delta Gamma Sorority collected items to receive community service hours, she said.

The Community Involvement Cabinet has been working to advertise the project and hopes students will participate, Rakow said.

Dorm mailboxes have been stuffed with flyers, and more will be passed out around campus, she said.

Project SLOSH was recently entered in the Dodge GrabLife GiveLife competition, an online contest among philanthropic events created and nominated by college students. The first event to receive 20,000 votes receives ,20,000 from Dodge for the philanthropy or charity of its choice. Dodge will also award second- through sixth-place events with awards.

The project was in eighth place with 3,578 votes as of Thursday night.

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Rakow created a Facebook group to inform students about the project and encourage them to vote.

Since individuals are allowed to vote one time per day, Rakow tries to send messages to people to remind them to vote, she said.

The student organization that donates the most items will receive a free pizza party from the cabinet. Individual cabinets in SG, as well as the Student Senate, are acting as separate student organizations and collecting donations.

The service cabinet is also trying to get the locations of soldiers who withdrew from UF to serve but will send the items regardless, said Kamali Burke, a UF sophomore and assistant director for the cabinet.

"Several members of SG told us they have family serving, and we will also ask other students to submit information about soldiers they would like to receive donations," Burke said.

Rakow and Burke say they are happy that people are starting to support the group.

Rakow has received e-mails from UF alumni wanting to donate, and more than 850 people have joined the Facebook group.

Burke said it is important students realize who they are really supporting.

"These soldiers were one day sitting next to you in class as students, and now they are fighting for us as heroes," she said.

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