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UMFK students on active duty in Iraq receive care packages from campus

June 4, 2004


Three University of Maine at Fort Kent students who are members of the 391st MP Battalion and were called into active military duty late last year to serve their country in Iraq are not being forgotten by their classmates half a world away.

Nicholas Quint of Hodgdon and Michael Cyr and Chad Morneault, both of St. Agatha were called into active duty in December 2003.

Through a project initiated by UMFK Student Senator Lloyd Pulk, the three service members from Aroostook County each received special care packages, which included a campus memento, items donated by the University's Newman Club and dozens of comfort and personal hygiene items purchased with funds donated by the student governing body.

The effort was born from a conversation between Quint and Pulk at the end of the fall semester, when Pulk learned that his friend had received military deployment orders and would not be returning in the spring session.

"I was surprised by the news," said Pulk. "I remember Nick telling me to keep in touch. Shortly after that I decided I wanted to do more than just write him a letter."

Pulk, a Veteran who served as a medic in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1980's is a non-traditional student who came to UMFK a year-and-a-half ago from the small western Maine town of Carthage.

"I selected this campus because of its small size and the personal attention that is given to students here. We are like a family, and in the case of our students serving in the armed forces, we need to take care of our own," said Pulk.

Remembering how good it felt to receive a care package from home during his days in the military, Pulk decided to spearhead an effort to send a UMFK care package to the three students.

He brought his idea to the full student senate and convinced the group to fund the project.

With student senate approval and funding, Pulk approached fellow UMFK student, Brad Ouellette, a reservist who is a specialist with the 152nd Field Artillery Unit, who served on active duty in both Korea and Bosnia in the late 1990's and 2000, to inquire about what should be included in the care packages.

Ouellette, a St. Agatha native, had firsthand experience on what was needed by troops out in the field from his years overseas. During his time in active service he recalled receiving a similar care package from his local American Legion Post.

With a list of appropriate items suggested by Ouellette, Pulk partnered with another University student and friend Jeremy Gurney of Fryeburg, Maine to purchase the comfort items.

The shopping list included several personal hygiene items that ranged from toilet paper and foot powder to baby wipes and lip balm. Also added to the care package were sun block, hard candy, copies of local newspapers, envelopes and a book of postage stamps.

Other items added included a UMFK Frisbee, donated by the university bookstore; a bible and hand-made cross necklace given by UMFK's Newman Club; and a copy of National Geographic magazine, donated by Pulk himself.

With the purchased and donated materials compiled, Pulk and Gurney teamed up during the first week of May to prepare the packages for mailing and to send them overseas.

Last week, the two learned through an e-mail sent to Donald Raymond, UMFK registrar, from an appreciative Nicholas Quint that he had received the package.

"I was surprised that they received it so quickly," said Pulk.

Quint, who is stationed in Abu Graib, spoke in his e-mail of how grateful he was to receive the material from UMFK. He told Raymond of temperatures that reached 126 degrees.

"I wasn't sure about including the baby wipes in the package when Brad (Ouellette) suggested them. When I heard, through Nicolas' e-mail how hot it was, I'm glad we sent them," said Pulk. "Overall, I'm just glad that we let our fellow UMFK students and troops know that we support them."