Parents and alumni show gratitude to US servicemen and women

To support U.S. troops, the Pepperdine alumni organization Waves of Service partnered with United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) last holiday season in a “Waves of Appreciation” project. Together they gave away 2,500 bags of food to military members as they boarded planes at the San Diego International Airport.

The San Diego Waves determined that many of the U.S. servicemen and women traveling have very little money to spend on food. To meet the needs of military members, Waves of Service received $21,600 in donations to fill the reusable cinch backpacks with all kinds of goodies.

The bags contained non-perishable food such as beef jerky (a favorite), Cliff bars, nuts, dried fruit, a candy bar (usually Snickers), cheese and crackers, trail mix, granola bars, etc. In addition to the food, each bag contained one to three notes from children and adults thanking them for their service.

“A group of three military men who had received their bags earlier returned to our table with a thumbs up wave, just to excitedly let us know the contents of the bag were ‘awesome.’  That really made me certain that our efforts were sincerely appreciated,” said Christine Daggett, a volunteer and Pepperdine alum.

The group had originally planned on passing out 2,000 bags, but after passing out 1,400 during the Thanksgiving holiday alone, they knew they needed more resources. They quickly put in an order for more bags and assembled an additional 500 bags just before Christmas.

The project surpassed everyone’s expectations and was “totally the work of the Lord,” said Lauren Bullock, a co-chair of the project and Pepperdine alum.

“Over 10 days we had around 365 volunteers who put in 1,228 hours. And that’s just assembling and passing out the bags. There were many more hours behind the scenes of getting the bags, reaching out for donations, etc. God is good,” Bullock said.

A celebration party was held Feb. 4 at Casa Guadalajara in Old Town San Diego. The banquet celebrated the hard work that the volunteers put into making this project a success.

Jim and Maureen Kasselmann, parents of Pepperdine sophomore Andrew Kasselmann (Graphic news assistant), were presented a Waves of Service award for their immense involvement in the project.

“We were so surprised and honored to receive this award.  We simply saw the email asking for volunteers to come to the first planning meeting and our family jumped in and did what we could to help make the project a success,” Maureen said. “We wanted to honor our military and show our appreciation for their dedication and service to our country. We are grateful that Waves of Service gave us the opportunity to do that. We hope we can be a part of many more service projects in the years to come.”

Waves of Service is also donating $1,000 to a charity of the Kasselmanns’ choice. Jim is a retired Marine, so the family decided to donate to Wounded Warriors. The family felt the project benefited the USO, and they said they wanted to help out another organization that was helping service members.

What began as a pilot program for the Waves of Service office may now expand to other locations across the country. If taken nationwide, Pepperdine alumni from all over the country would have the opportunity to demonstrate what it means to live lives of purpose, service and leadership.

Although the project is not set in stone for next year, it is likely that it will continue. To make it happen, Waves of Service is looking for more volunteers to help. According to Bullock, more manpower will be needed to help organize it.

Anyone interested in more information or volunteering can contact wavesofservice@pepperdine.edu or sansiegopepperdinewaves@gmail.com.