More than 90 care boxes are on their way to U.S. troops in Afghanistan thanks to Marymount University graduate students in Dr. Lisa Jackson-Cherry’s Pastoral Counseling Integration course.
As their service project for the class, they decided that they wanted to show their appreciation to U.S. service members by providing useful and entertaining items, as well as spiritual materials. The eleven students (who represent different faiths and cultures and include a priest and a pastor) gathered information on what the soldiers wanted and needed, then set about collecting magazines, books, games, National Geographic DVDs, and – for the women – personal hygiene products.
Maya Georgieva, who is completing her master’s in clinical mental health counseling, said, “We also wrote personal notes of support and included materials on mindfulness techniques like breathing, imagery, and meditation exercises to help cope with stress.”
Pastoral counseling provides services from a faith-based and/or spiritual perspective. Many people are more comfortable with counseling that incorporates their faith perspective. Pastoral counseling students are required to complete 30 hours of community service in their program.
Dr. Jackson-Cherry, professor of Counseling and chair of the Department of Counseling, explained, “They are encouraged to think of ways that service can be integrated into counseling with clients, as research shows that helping others can decrease anxiety and depression, while increasing self esteem.”
Regarding the care-package project, she remarked, “I expected them to put together a few boxes, but they ended up with nearly 100 large, USPS flat-rate boxes! They planned and implemented this by themselves from start to finish, and items collected were solicited locally and across the country. This effort was started with genuine compassion and was packaged and sent with love.”
To ship the boxes, Dr. Jackson-Cherry enlisted the aid of VFW Post 7464 in Grasonville, MD, where she is a member of the women’s auxiliary. She noted, “I wish my students could see the faces of veterans from past wars who were in the VFW when I delivered the boxes. Many were not dry as the veterans told me stories of their deployments and how such gestures from strangers are so appreciated.”
– Dr. Lisa Jackson-Cherry (left) discusses box contents as the students pack.PHOTO 2
– Maya Georgieva, a candidate for the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Sandi Boyles, a candidate for the M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, pack a box with items especially for female soldiers.
PHOTO 3 – Peggy Maslanka (M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling candidate) writes a letter of appreciation.