Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebrate a Soldier

It was near freezing today, even in the bright sunshine, and Brittany Heminger was standing at the foot of the steps of the Mary Couts Burnett Library in a striped hat and scarf passing out flyers with a wide smile.

It’s the last day of classes for the semester, but Heminger wants every person passing by to have a piece of stationery.

Her cause: remembering American soldiers overseas who cannot come home for the holidays. In an effort she named “Celebrate a Soldier,” Heminger is asking students, faculty and staff members to spend five minutes writing a letter to a man or woman in uniform.

“I just want the soldiers to get a show of encouragement by receiving a gift from home,” says the senior psychology major who claims both Fort Worth and San Diego, Calif., as hometowns. Her father flew jets in the Navy.

Why mail? Simple. Letters from home are the No. 1 request of soldiers, according to While the site promotes care packages, Heminger says she’s encouraging letters because stamps are more affordable, and she’s picking up the tab. She’s just asking for one-page well-wishes. Even on notebook paper.

“I have 150 letters right now, and I am hoping to get more with Dead Days coming up,” Heminger says. She’s taken her sign and stationery stash to the Union twice this week and will continue to take letters til the end of Finals Week. “The ones from little kids are the cutest.” [UPDATE: She mailed 413 letters.]

Third-grade students at Starpoint School have contributed, with many of their letters offering holiday greetings and thanks yous. A few even discuss the status of their lists to Santa.

Heminger’s project started three weeks ago when she tried to contribute to the campus holiday shoe box gift drive. When she learned that no one had taken up the cause this year, Heminger felt compelled to start her own mission.

“I just want to leave a mark,” she says.

Even when the holidays end, she plans to keep the effort going until she graduates in May. She’s even lined up a successor in ROTC to take up the cause after that. Before then, she has bigger plans for the campaign.

“I want to extend it out to other schools and have elementary schools through high schools getting involved,” she says.

That's something to write home about.

Contact Brittany at

- Rick

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