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Baylor students send gifts, spirit to Iraqi soldiers

Jan. 14, 2009

A group of Baylor University graduate students pooled their resources to spread some holiday cheer by mailing care packages to an entire unit of soldiers stationed in Iraq for their second holiday season in a row.

The packages arrived, along with a tree, just in time for Christmas in Baghdad. The special delivery contained snacks, board games, novelty gifts, homemade baked goods, and--perhaps most meaningful of all--letters and cards.

Alexis Marks, a first-year student in the Baylor's clinical psychology doctoral program, initiated and organized the plan to "adopt" an entire apache helicopter unit originating at Fort Hood, and stationed in Iraq for the past 15 months. The unit, consisting of 35 soldiers, received personal gifts and letters, communal offerings, and a seven-foot-tall Christmas tree complete with ornaments and lights. Boxes arrived a few days before Christmas, emblazoned with labels reading, "with love from Baylor University."

Marks spent five years in the Army before enrolling as a graduate student at Baylor. She served two tours of duty in Iraq and has several friends who are still in the military. Marks said she wanted to find a way to show service men and women in Baghdad that she and her Baylor classmates still appreciate them.

"Many of my friends in Iraq have told me that they feel forgotten over there," Marks said. "Some of them are on their second or third tour in Iraq."

More than 15 students, faculty and affiliates of Baylor's department of psychology and neuroscience participated in the adopt-a-soldier effort. Those who were unable to go shopping for gifts made donations or helped with the packing and mailing. Many donors received messages of thanks and photos from the soldiers, who proudly posed with a Baylor flag in front of the Christmas tree. The apache unit is scheduled to return to Fort Hood in January.

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