Blessings from Deployment

UT volunteers Sasha Lake and Keri-Anne Kolodiej prep packing boxes at Saturday's event.

Rex is safely back from his latest mission but too tired to write until tomorrow. So I am using the space to say thanks to some very special people. They are Keri-Anne Kolodiej and Christine Merry, students at the University of Tampa and leaders at UT’s Peace Center. In the last few weeks they have really rallied the students at UT to help with Rex’s school supplies drive and we can’t thank them enough.

Christine Merry - sorry I stole this picture from your Facebook!

Keri-Anne has organized and recruited volunteers for our “packing parties” and Christine has recruited volunteers and collected donations; both have worked non-stop to get the UT drive up and running at full speed and it’s been very exciting to watch it all happen.

Also, I have special thanks for Dr. David J. Bechtold, Assistant Professor at UT’s business program who specializes in leadership, corporate responsibility, and strategic planning. Thanks to a community involvement requirement in his class, we got some

Dr. Bechtold's students (from left) Zack Claisse, Nick Carr and Juan Valle show off Saturday's end result - 54 U.S. Postal Service flat rate boxes, 4 large cube boxes and one special box with whiteboards. Hope to see you guys at the next packing event as well!

extra help this weekend at our latest packing and shipping event. Three of his students did much of the heavy lifting on Saturday when we packed another 54 large flat rate

From left UT volunteer Alyssa Salagaj and Liisa pause for a picture while filling out customs forms.

boxes, four more large cubes and one special box filled with whiteboards. Dr. Bechtold – thanks for the help and maybe you can also challenge your students to find ways to collect tax deductible donations for our shipping fund? Because after this last shipment we are all out of shipping funds. (If you can help sponsor the shipping of

UT volunteers Zack Claisse and Daniel Lewin sort and pack donated supplies.

one flat rate box @ $12.50, please click here or find the “Donate” button at the top of this page.)

All of yesterday’s volunteers made a great impression on me but one who stood out the most was Daniel Lewin. This young man is a fulltime student who also juggles three part-time jobs to help get him through college. One of the jobs is at Starbucks, which obviously made me a huge fan right way. Another one of his jobs is head of Greek Life at UT – which I hope will lead to more Greeks getting involved in Rex’s school supplies drive. Despite his hectic schedule Daniel volunteered to drive around Tampa with me this coming week to pick up more donations since I am still not allowed to lift anything. What a great guy!

I also want to thank Karen McAllister, Audience Editor at, the website of St Petersburg Times. She’s published items about Rex’s deployment from time to time and was kind enough to do so again yesterday this time focusing on the school supplies drive. Her write-up is currently on the front page of where it has the potential of reaching literally thousands of readers who visit the popular news site every day. Thank you, Karen, very much for helping to spread the word!

It’s amazing how many wonderful new people Rex and I both have met thanks to the deployment and Rex’s school supplies drive. We are very blessed to have so much support.


3 Responses

  1. Hi Liisa,

    Thanks for all of the wonderful praise! We love the school supply drive and are very excited to help it continue to grow.

    Keri-Anne Kolodiej

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by AllMilitaryNews: (AFG: Last Tour) Blessings from Deployment: UT volunteers Sasha Lake and Keri-Anne Kolodiej prep packing boxes… #SOT…

  3. It’s great for young adults to get involved! Bravo for their caring attitude!

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