Clarion, Pa.- Clarion University’s Rugby team, the Tafurs, have been using the month of March to collect care packages
for deployed military members who are serving overseas. Clarion Rugby is operating the event in conjunction with Operation: Troop Appreciation, who will be coordinating the logistics of getting the care packages across the world to troops overseas.
The Tafurs are also cooperating with the University’s Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement who have donated more than 20 care packages thus far as well their main sponsor, the local branch of the VFW (Post No. 2145).
The idea for March for Our Troops arose when Keyan Pineda, a flanker and a medic in the Air Force, was deployed to Guam during the winter. The team decided that sending a care package and a rugby ball to him would be a great way to show him and his base their appreciation. The team, however was in a state of flux during February, with a new officer class being elected, and these plans fell through. Despite this, the idea of March for Our Troops live on, and as March approached, collection boxes were placed in residence halls and tables were planned. The event grew into a major philanthropic pursuit for the team and they intend to continue the event for years into the future.
The capstone of March for Our Troops was a fundraising event called “Shaved Like a Joe” – referencing the haircuts that GI’s receive upon entering basic training. The event was a resounding success, raising well over $650 for the purchase of additional care packages. Several Clarion celebrities were shaved during the event, which featured a silent auction for the right to be the person to shave the student or faculty member. A few of the participants generated a great deal of excitement and revenue for the cause. A few of the top earners were science professors Dr. Jonathon Touster and Dr. John Heard, as well as student Stephen Hartley, who was shaved by his own father, Dean Hartley.
The program is the brainchild of Jesse Griffin, the team’s Scrumhalf, Vice President and member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Jesse’s passion for the cause and for the advancement of the team led directly to great successes in the event. The team’s program has collected dozens of boxes filled with goods, including several gaming systems and accessories. The team has collected over $1,200 so far and plans to spend the money from the collections to buy an Xbox One for Operation: Troop Appreciation.