Alli DeVaul wanted to join the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at Youngstown State University when she learned of the Sisters for Soldiers care package drive.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, members of the sorority will be stationed at the Eastwood Mall’s community booth, located in the hallway near Target. There, they’ll collect items — like reading materials, food, clothing and games — to send to soldiers overseas, and they’ll be back again on Feb. 23.
Alli DeVaul and Jamey DeVaul, her older brother, grew up together in a close-knit family; the two are just a year apart. After Jamey DeVaul’s first semester as a freshman at Ohio Dominican University, he and his sister went from talking every day to talking only once every two weeks.
Jamey DeVaul is a U.S. Marine stationed in Afghanistan.
Lindsey Green, one of Alli DeVaul’s sorority sisters, has been helping to gather items for soldiers.
“I love that we get to do something so close to home,” Green said.
Green started tearing up as Alli DeVaul talked about her brother.
“We’re so close. We have a very close family. Him joining the Marines just made me respect him so much more,” Alli DeVaul said. “He was always protecting me, so now he’s protecting you, too.”
The sorority members organized their first care package drive last semester, and they successfully sent 22 boxes of items to troops overseas. The sisters hope to surpass the fall quota in the spring, but they haven’t set an official goal yet.
“We just want to gather as much as we can,” Green said. “So far, we have a lot of deodorant and razors.”
The first day of this semester’s drive was already quite successful, she said. “We were passing out fliers, and since we were in the Target hallway, a lot of people were buying items to donate,” she said of the Feb. 2 collection.
Alli DeVaul said it’s nice to have her sorority sisters support her while her brother is away. Jamey DeVaul was stationed in Japan for a year before going to Afghanistan. Alli DeVaul said her family doesn’t have a military history, but her brother had always talked about joining.
“He came home for break after his first semester [of college] and told us,” she said. He’s been home twice since enlisting and will be home for a month in June.
“He loves video games. I’m not really into them, but when he’s home, I’ll just watch him play and hang out. We like to go to the movies and just do normal things,” Alli DeVaul said.
Green said they will continue to gather items in the future.
“We love to give back and to do something where the community can be involved,” Green said.
She said students who would like to donate can take items to the Student Activities Office in Kilcawley Center.