Western University of Health Sciences faculty and students are asking for help in giving children backpacks and school supplies, putting shoes on the homeless, and bringing smiles to the faces of soldiers serving overseas.

WesternU has several ongoing charitable projects underway. The College of Podiatric Medicine will collect new and used shoes during the first Sole Searching Shoe Drive, Nov. 16-20, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Health Professions Center (HPC) Student Commons. The shoes will be distributed to the Pomona homeless community on Dec. 10 in cooperation with Project Connect.

“We wanted to create a service-oriented activity for our college that would benefit the community,” said Trevor Black, DPM ’13, vice president of the CPM Class of 2013. “Being the inaugural class of the College of Podiatric Medicine, we thought a shoe drive would be fitting.”

The National Student Nurse Association has organized Project “Pack-a-Backpack,” placing collection boxes in HPC, the Health Science Center (HSC), the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), the Nursing Science Center (NSC) and Swift Hall in the University Research Center (URC).

The club is asking for donations of backpacks and school supplies, such as erasers, pencils, notebooks, markers, crayons and folders. New school supplies are preferred, but “gently used” supplies are also welcome. When donating “gently used” supplies, please dress them up by putting them in a pencil box or pen case.

The donations, to be collected through Nov. 23, will be given to homeless and “in-need” students in the Pomona Unified School District.

The Master of Science in Nursing Entry (MSN-E) Class of 2012 are rotating through various community health nursing programs, including the Pomona Unified School District. MSN-E students Isabel Lim, fundraising coordinator for NSNA, and Sara Taylor, NSNA chapter representative, worked with David Larson of PUSD’s Family Resource Center to develop Project Pack-a-Backpack.

“All of our donations will be going to the Family Resource Center to help them with their efforts in eliminating barriers that stand in the way of school success for the homeless children and youth of Pomona,” Lim said.

College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) staff, faculty and students sent out the first round of 12 care packages to troops serving overseas. A collection box will remain year-round in the Veterinary Medical Center for donations.

Suggested items include Tabasco and other hot sauce, ground coffee, beef/venison jerky, sports/fitness magazines, peanuts, candy, individual packages of sports drink mixes, individual packs of laundry detergent and dryer sheets and lip balm.

No alcohol, and clean magazines only please. Most troops have their immediate family send things like personal toiletries, socks and underwear, so WesternU’s care packages lean more toward fun items recipients can share with others, especially with those who do not receive packages from home.

Packages must be sent to a specific person and cannot be sent to an entire unit, said CVM Assistant Professor Elizabeth Schilling, DVM, whose brother is serving in Afghanistan. They are sending the packages to friends and relatives serving in the military, who will then share the treats with everyone in their unit.

“Every little bit means something to them,” she said. “They’re things they can’t get there.”

They are also collecting additional names and addresses for care packages, and they are having people sign holiday cards to include in the mailings.

CVM is collecting donations to pay for shipping. Excess proceeds will be donated to Operation Santa and the United Through Reading Program, which records deployed military personnel reading children’s books so their children can see and hear them read.

CVM Administrative Assistant Chris Vander Veen has two sons who served in Afghanistan. They told her they wanted coffee and hot sauce. Reading hometown newspapers, even if they had never heard of the town, also helped connect them to home.

“We want to show support to the troops,” she said. “This is an ongoing project. We will continue to do it as long as we have donations to send.”

Natacha Staub, DVM ’12, said her husband, Sgt. Joseph Staub, is serving with the National Guard in Afghanistan. Sending care packages is a great, simple thing everyone can do.

“It makes him happy that people are remembering him,” she said.

INFO BOX

Care packages for deployed troops

Drop off food, magazines and other donations in the Veterinary Medical Center Atrium. Monetary donations may be left with Chris Vander Veen in the VMC Reception area. For more information, e-mail Dr. Elizabeth Schilling at eschilling@westernu.edu.

Project “Pack-a-Backpack”

Drop off school supplies and backpacks in HPC, HSC, VMC, NSC and Swift Hall through Nov. 23. For more information, e-mail Sara Taylor,setaylor@westernu.edu, or Isabel Lim, ilim@westernu.edu

Sole Searching Shoe Drive

Drop off new and used shoes on Nov. 16-20 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Health Professions Center Student Commons. For more information, e-mail Trevor Black at tblack@westernu.edu.