One UT student is making an impact in the lives of soldiers more than 7,500 miles away.
Jazmin Witherspoon, a freshman journalism and electronic media major, is currently sponsoring a military donation drive to support the 1st Theater Sustainment Command as they serve in Kabul, Afghanistan.
After hearing that soldiers in the 1st TSC never receive care packages, Witherspoon's donation drive began.
"My dad gets a collection box from my family, but a lot of the soldiers never receive care packages," Witherspoon said. "I could not imagine sitting overseas and not ever receiving a care package."
Running until Nov. 21, possible donations include, but are not limited to: cotton balls, travel body wash, lotion, coffee packets, dried fruit, deodorant and cough drops. Also, a few items were requested specifically, including socks and Glade air fresheners.
"The air quality here is dirty to say the least," specialist E4 and deployed serviceman Anthony Figarola said through a Skype interview.
Difficulties abroad are further stressed by cultural differences between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
"It's a very different kind of cultural climate and you don't really want to step over that boundary," Sgt. Karl Heilmann said, also through Skype. "The women here are hidden in a way. You aren't supposed to interact with them much, and a lot of the time our guys are really careful about that. The men [local to Afghanistan] are like a mirror. How you treat them is how they treat you, more or less."
In Kabul, soldiers are not able to purchase the same products, like certain candies and Doritos, as they would in the U.S.
The donation drive has begun slowly, but Witherspoon hopes to spread the word and garner more participation.
"I haven't donated items to the donation drive just yet," said Stephanie Moss, an exploratory freshman. "I can't decide what items I should donate, but I plan on participating because I feel that it is important to show appreciation for the people who give so much for us to be free."
The soldiers of the 1st TSC showed gratitude when they were informed of the donation drive."We appreciate all that you guys and gals are doing for us," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Witherspoon.
"It makes serving the country that much more honorable when our next generation of leaders support us."
For more information email Jazmin Witherspoon at Jwither4@utk.edu.