SVA Donates for Thanksgiving

The Student Veterans’ Association (SVA) planned an event called “Ask-a-Veteran” on Nov. 13. Despite the low attendance of non-military affiliated students, the event turned into a food drive and branched into a discussion to plan more charitable programs.

Rocco Puzzo, a communication radio/television first-year student, Treasurer of the SVA and an infantryman in the Army said, “Well, the ‘Ask-a-Vet’ turned into a meeting simply because we didn’t have anyone show up. We decided it was a good idea to talk about what we need to do for next time in order to make this event more of a success.”

“The organization rallied themselves together to use it as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas on engaging with the community for the upcoming holiday season,” said Michael Callahan, Coordinator of Veteran Services at the University.

Nick Venier, a junior marketing student, SVA President, and Air Force veteran said, “It was a failure in that not many people came but it was a success because we all got together and planned.”

Although their original event became a meeting for the SVA, the assemblage led to the planning of charitable programs for the organization to take part in along with the completion of a food drive in time for Thanksgiving.

“It was a simple turkey drive; everyone contributed a certain amount of money and that got us a few turkeys to donate,” Venier noted.

Shannon Hudson, a sophomore health studies student and Navy veteran said, “The event turned into a meeting and we ended up doing a food drive. We talked about an upcoming event, which is going to be a toy drive for Christmas.”

 “I thought the food drive was very successful; we were able to raise enough money to get eight full turkeys, six boxes of stuffing, one large apple and one large pumpkin pie,” Puzzo said. He then delivered the collected food to the Peoples Pantry in Toms River. “We got 125 pounds worth of food. I wanted to at least attempt to make Thanksgiving just a little bit better for a family who doesn’t have much,” Puzzo continued.

The generous veterans will not know who receives their donations butt Puzzo said he prays “it really made a difference.”  

“In the past, we’ve done runs to raise money and awareness, like a 5k for homeless veterans, and Habitat for Humanity, and volunteering in groups,” Hudson said.

The organization is currently looking to help in charitable events in the Monmouth community.

“We want to make an impact on the community as much as we can but we don’t have the numbers for big events so we want to get involved with sororities and fraternities and help out any way we can,” Venier said.

“I thought it was important that we did something as an organization, especially being a bunch of veterans, I thought it would be a humbling experience knowing that since we all are no longer in uniform, that we could do something while still having all the values the military had instilled in us.” Puzzo said.

“A major focus of the SVA is in developing peer and community leadership,” said Callahan. “Through charitable causes and doing community service, the members of the SVA are able to ‘continue to serve’ by not only helping those in need, but by also offering support (either through student power or material support) to fellow student organizations.”