Crafts Unleashed creates cards for troops overseas

By Victoria Pai

While Nov. 11 was a day to honor veterans in the local community and across the nation, it was also an opportunity to thank soldiers currently serving overseas. The Illini Union Board will carry on this spirit of gratitude Tuesday at 6 p.m. for its latest event in its Crafts Unleashed series. The event will feature thank-you card making for active military soldiers abroad. 

For Abigail Elliott, freshman in FAA, the significance of Veterans Day reminded her of the many military families from her hometown of Elizabethtown, Ky. Elliott said she understands the pain of separation for those families around this memorable time of year, with both Veterans Day and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Therefore, she decided to take action. It was not time-consuming, grand or glorious, but it was what she felt she could do as an individual: She wrote a letter.

On Sunday afternoon, Elliott and a group of Allen Hall residents created thank-you letters for soldiers as part of an initiative by vALLENteers.

“It’s extremely important to be able to encourage soldiers while they are away from their support systems,” Elliott said, referring to soldiers’ family and friends. 

Jennifer Mendez, director of arts on the Illini Union Board and senior in LAS, said this is the first time Crafts Unleashed will be organized under a central theme. Mendez said that because the University can be a bubble, she believes this event will open students’ eyes to life beyond campus and cause them to take a moment to appreciate those who sacrifice so much for their country. Located in the Illini Union food court, the event will be free and open to the public.

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Mendez expects that they will send a large amount of cards abroad, as students have already submitted more than 200 cards.

Even if students are unable to make it to Tuesday night’s event, the Student Veteran Lounge in the Illini Union’s basement will continue to accept cards and care packages to be sent later in the semester. 

Depending on Tuesday night’s turnout, Mendez said she hopes Crafts Unleashed events featuring card making will become a regular workshop. 

“I feel like a lot of us could do more to give back to the troops,” Mendez said. “It’s only a card for us, but it could be something for them to hold onto in tough times.” 

Crafts Unleashed will work with the Illini Veterans, a registered student organization, in distributing the cards to soldiers abroad. Illini Union Board President Stuti Mehta echoed both Elliott’s and Mendez’s attitude toward the event by saying it is “our way of thanking oversea soldiers for all that they give and sacrifice for our country.” 

Mehta, senior in LAS and Media, said this is the most recent time the Illini Union Board will host an event in which students can make cards for soldiers overseas. 

Mehta emphasized that especially during the holiday season, students can “let (soldiers overseas) know they’re being thought of.” 

Victoria can be reached at [email protected].