By Olivia DeFilippo, Psi (James Madison University)
Treats4Troops is a joint service project of the Gamma Tau Chapter at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania and the Stars & Stripes Alumnae Association. It was initially started in 2005 by Tracy Bond Ciabattoni, Zeta, and her husband in their living room, where they and their friends put together 25 Halloween treat bags for Alpha Sigma Tau Sisters and spouses serving overseas. Today, Treats4Troops is a larger community project that accepts donations, assembles treat bags, and sends them overseas.
Over the years, Treats4Troops has received a lot of positive feedback and thank you cards from individuals who have received the treat bags.
One such person was a mother of three members of the U.S. Army, two of whom are currently deployed. “Although my children are deployed on opposite sides of the globe, both have mentioned receiving Halloween treats from Alpha Sigma Tau,” she shares. “This is my oldest daughter’s first deployment and it has been a difficult one. When she spoke of the treats, it was the first time I’ve heard joy in her voice. I’m not sure I can put into words what that does for a mother to hear her child laugh for the first time in months.”
The family of Alpha Sigma Tau’s Third Alternate NPC Delegate Joanne Rupprecht Walter, Psi, have also been impacted. “During Halloween 2016, my husband’s ship was on an extended underway to the Oceania area of the Pacific,” Joanne recalls. “He received over 150 treat bags from Treats4Troops, which he distributed to the crew. The packages were a tangible link to the home front and a morale booster for the men and women who were away from their families for the fall holiday season. Treats4Troops is dear to my heart.”
Inspired, Joanne also participates in Treats4Troops herself. “I know first-hand how positively impactful receiving a box of treats from Alpha Sigma Tau’s Treats4Troops project can be for our deployed military service members,” she says. “I am especially thankful for the outpouring of support from our Sisterhood to be able to continue this special, rewarding, and patriotic event.”
(See nearby for other notes of gratitude and inspiration from those serving overseas.)
After the first seven years, Treats4Troops outgrew the Ciabattoni living room. Re-purposing it as a service project of the Gamma Tau Chapter made sense, since Tracy served as a Chapter Advisory Board member there. This year, with the support of Sisters across the globe, family members, friends, and community organizations, the chapter put together more than 1,700 treat bags to send to troops.
The women of Gamma Tau have been enriched by the project and are grateful for the opportunity to serve as well. “As members of Alpha Sigma Tau, we value philanthropy highly,” says Brianna Metsger, the chapter’s Director of Philanthropy. “We believe that our annual Treats4Troops project is an amazing way to show our appreciation for our troops, both active and inactive. We are thankful for the privileges we have as citizens of the United States, and we attribute our freedoms to the soldiers and veterans who have fought and still fight for our country.”
“The event is very high-energy,” says National Vice President and past Gamma Tau Chapter Advisor Jenni Kemmery, Delta. “Sisters and guests assemble treat bags, cut and tie ribbon, write address labels, and pack boxes.”
Partnership and collaboration are key to Treats4Troops’ success. “Treats4Troops is increasingly successful because of the collaborative efforts of the Stars & Stripes Alumnae Association and the Gamma Tau Chapter,” continues Jenni. “Our reach extends further each year as additional Alpha Sigma Tau Sisters and supportive members of our communities donate candy and snacks for treat bags and money for shipping costs.”
Tracy hopes for a future where there are no troops in harm’s way. However, until then, she, Joanne, the Sisters of Gamma Tau and Stars & Stripes, and others will continue Treats4Troops and brightening the days of men and women serving overseas.