HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – The holiday season is very different this year for all of us, but Centenary University’s Office of Veteran Services donation drive to benefit vets was as successful as ever. The office, in partnership with Centenary’s Office of Community Engagement, the Woman’s Club of Hackettstown, and Waterloo United Methodist Church, collected and distributed contributions for the residents of VA medical centers in Lyons and East Orange, NJ.
Margie Pavlichko, director of veteran services at Centenary, has been the motivating force behind the drive for more than half a decade. She matches the needs of veterans in the community with Centenary groups, and then sorts, counts, and re-packs items received. She then hand-delivers all of the packages to the VA medical centers. The drive kicks off on Veteran’s Day and concludes in early December.
“The generosity of the community never ceases to amaze me,” said Pavlichko. “This takes a village, and I am grateful for that village. COVID-19 made everything from donation drop-off to delivery more complicated, but the community stepped up and their response was phenomenal.”
Seventy-four holiday goody bags were delivered to the two VA hospitals, with the assistance of Centenary graduate student Monica Leitner. Centenary students also participated in a virtual event to make Veteran’s Day thank-you cards, under the auspices of Rachel Danitz, community engagement coordinator, with the help of student Elizabeth Brouse.
Project partners also included the staff and volunteers at the VA medical centers. The Hackettstown Library was a central drop-off site, as was Waterloo United Methodist Church, whose pastor, Rev. Timothy Nicinski, is also Centenary’s chaplain.
Centenary University President Bruce Murphy, Ed.D. and his wife, Jeanne, have both worked to strengthen relationships between the University and veterans in the community. Both are U.S. Army veterans themselves, with more than 50 years’ combined service. Jeanne Murphy, a retired colonel, was instrumental in connecting the Woman’s Club of Hackettstown with Pavlichko.
Centenary University has a proud history of programs that help veterans, enlisted service members, and their families earn college degrees. Centenary offers a one-stop Office of Veteran Services and a designated Veteran’s Resource Center. In addition, the University has participated in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which has helped to fund veterans’ tuition since its inception. Thanks to the generosity of former CDR John S. Jenkins, Jr., JAGC, USN, the Marilyn Lewis Jenkins ’51 Endowed Scholarship will also assist active duty or retired service personnel and children of military families to afford a college education at Centenary.
The University recently announced that it is participating in the Community College of the Air Force’s (CCAF) General Education Mobile (GEM) Program, which enables air and space personnel enrolled at CCAF to earn an Associate in Applied Science (AAS), taking virtual general education courses through Centenary. The University also offers a free riding program, Operation Centaur, for veterans to participate in equine classroom, ground activities, and riding, as well as to learn more about the relationship between horses and humans.
For more information about veteran services at Centenary, contact Margie Pavlichko at Margie.Pavlichko@centenaryuniversity.edu or call 908-852-1400, ext. 2318.