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GSC sends packages to troops in Afghanistan

POSTED: December 20, 2009 11:25 p.m.
/For The Times

Jacob Worthington, center in uniform, is part of the 310th PSYOP Company from Fort Gilliam and is currently serving in Afghanistan. He visited Gainesville State College while home on leave and was able to see all the items that the Gainesville State faculty, staff and students collected as part of a drive for the U. S. Army soldiers in his unit. With Worthington are, from left, Tony Phillips, Heather Wilkie, Leslie Worthington, Monique Kluczyowski and Ben Hamby.

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Gainesville State College faculty, staff and students have united to send care packages to U.S. Army troops serving in Afghanistan.

The Humanities and Fine Arts Division sponsored the drive in honor of Pfc. Jacob Worthington, son of Leslie Worthington, assistant professor of English. He serves in the 310th Psychological Operations Company based at Fort Gillem.

The school sent 37 boxes filled with toiletries, snacks, magazines, books and DVDs. The mailing includes 373 holiday cards and letters.

“The library donated all of the magazines they usually get rid of,” Leslie Worthington said.

An additional drive had to be launched to cover the cost of shipping, which was more than $750.

The goal was to make sure everything reaches Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar by Christmas.

Leslie Worthington sent an open letter of thanks to drive participants once the packages were mailed. “I have been overwhelmed by the support, enthusiasm and concern,” she wrote.

In an phone interview last week, Worthington said, “I’ve been overwhelmed.”

A colleague approached Leslie Worthington about initially focusing the effort just on her son, but his mother suggested expanding it to the entire unit, which is stationed in southern Afghanistan.

“She mentioned it to the administrative assistant and she mentioned it somebody else, and there was an e-mail, and it just got huge, way bigger than we ever thought it would be,” Leslie Worthington said.

“The whole campus was involved.”

Her son was on leave at Thanksgiving and was able to visit the college mailroom, where all the boxes were being packed and prepared for shipping.

Worthington, who will coordinate the distribution of the items to his fellow soldiers, also spoke to a couple of classes, his mother said.

“We have a professor who’s teaching a combat-themed composition class and he spoke to (those students),” she said.

Her son joined the Army about two years ago and has been in Afghanistan since July. “He’s probably going to be home in June — that’s what we’re hoping,” she said.

Worthington said enduring her 19-year-old son’s absence has been difficult.

“It’s always right under the surface,” she said. “I know that every time he calls, I can tell the difference in the release of stress.”

But “he’s got a great attitude and hasn’t lost his sense of humor,” she added. “Sometimes he’ll call a couple times a week and sometimes he won’t call for a month. It just depends on where he is.

“... I’m so proud of him. He’s my hero.”


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