ST. TAMMANY, BATON ROUGE DROP OFF SITES
SOUTHEASTERN STUDENTS COLLECTING
SOCKS, SHOES FOR IRAQI CHILDREN
HAMMOND – In response to an appeal
from a Southeastern Louisiana University alumnus stationed in Iraq, a Southeastern
student organization is organizing a campaign to collect socks and shoes
for Iraqi children.
Gamma Beta Phi is calling their collection
drive, scheduled for Feb. 9-23, “Ben’s Kicks for Kids.” “Ben” is Sgt. 1st
Class Ben Necaise of St. Francisville, a 2000 Southeastern graduate and
a former member of the honor and service society, one of Southeastern’s
largest and most active student organizations. A 13-year veteran of the
Louisiana National Guard, Necaise taught history at West Feliciana High
School before being deployed last October.
Stationed in Baghdad with Bravo Company
of the Army National Guard's 1088th Engineer Battalion, 256th Brigade Combat
Team, he has been touched by the plight of Iraqi children.
“Ben’s heart is really heavy for the
children over there,” said his mother-in-law, Southeastern horticulture
instructor Linda Ryan of Ponchatoula. “The children have no shoes, jackets
or sweaters, and it gets down into the 30s almost every night.”
“He sees a lot of kids – and we have
a three year old,” said his wife, Ashley. “Ben is as tough as nails, but
he’s a big old teddy bear at heart.”
Ryan said she and her daughter have
been buying shoes at local second hand outlets such as Good Will and shipping
them to Iraq. Ashley Necaise got the idea of asking her husband’s Southeastern
contacts to help expand their personal efforts after several telephone
conversations with her husband.
“After we talked about three times,
it just dawned on me that we’ve got shoes all over the place,” she said.
“So, why not do this?
“We have already sent some toys and
other trinkets. Ben said the kids get the biggest smiles when they are
given something,” she added.
An email from Ryan to Jackie Dale Thomas,
co-advisor of Gamma Beta Phi and director of Leadership Development/Student
Activities, got the campaign going on campus.
Not only was Gamma Beta Phi enthusiastic
about heading the campaign, but other student groups such as the Dream
Team and the ExCEL Leadership Program are getting involved as well, Thomas
She said socks and shoes can be brought
to her office, room 110 in the War Memorial Student Union, from 7:45 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
“The shoes can be any size or style,”
Thomas said. “Used shoes are welcome, if they are in good shape. Socks
should be new and can be of any size or variety.”
Thomas said she admires Necaise for
his concern, especially in light of the recent deaths among his fellow
“At a time when he could be really
unhappy with the Iraqi people, he has chosen to take a higher road,” Thomas
said. “He knows that reaching out will help the children see that American
soldiers are there to help.”
For additional information, contact
Thomas at 985-549-2233.