Thursday, December 22, 2011
’Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
And to see just who in this home did live.
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far, distant land …
So begins the poem, A Soldier’s Silent Night, originally written by Lance Cpl. James M. Schmidt and recited by Father Ted Berndt, a World War II Purple Heart recipient, in a recording that has become a familiar presence on the radio during the holiday season. Though U.S. troops have returned from their mission in Iraq, the recording is a somber reminder of the service men and women who remain far away from loved ones.
Recently, students in the Leadership Development Program (LDP) took a break from studying and writing papers to spread some holiday cheer and express their gratitude to troops stationed overseas. On December 14, about 30 students socialized over pizza and created 47 holiday greeting cards for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that sends more than 100,000 care packages to the armed forces annually.
Laura Seplaki, director of LDP, said the program received a $100 gift card to Varsity Pizza, after it had the best turnout of participants in the Counseling Center’s Stomp Out Stigma Walk/Run earlier this semester. Seplaki said she wanted the occasion to be more than a pizza party, so she asked CDLS graduate assistant Elizabeth Williams to come up with a service component.
“Servant leadership is a critical part to being a great leader, and service to others must be something that as leaders we continuously strive to do each and every day, both in our professional and personal lives,” Williams explained. “An attitude of service is often derived from an attitude of gratitude, and so being impressed with Operation Gratitude’s mission and accomplishments, I thought it would be great for the students to contribute appreciation cards to their care packages that are sent to the men and women serving overseas.”