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KNOXVILLE — Say “care packages” and you probably imagine boxes chocked full of homemade goodies that parents send to their children who are away at college.

Two college women are switching that up a bit: they are packing boxes with snacks, essential clothing items, medicine and toiletries to send to marines in Afghanistan.

Amanda Oaks, senior in microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Keely Elledge, a former UT student who is now studying nursing at Lincoln Memorial University, are reaching out to the community to collect goodies to send to marines in Afghanistan.

Their childhood friend Travis Ervin and Keely’s boyfriend, Jonathan Book, are a part of 2/9 Echo Co. The boys were jolted when four marines in their company were killed last month. Oaks and Elledge decided to step in to try to raise their spirits.


“These guys have been serving together for the past four years,” Oaks said. “They’ve served in Iraq together. This would be like one of your best friends you’ve met in college and spent four years with just dying right in front of you.”

The women initially involved Oaks’ sorority, Phi Mu, but when word of their efforts spread, donations of money and supplies began coming in from the community. The money is used to buy items for the boxes and pay shipping costs.

Oaks and Elledge said they plan to continue collecting goods and making care packages for the marines.

“I wanted to give Jon and Travis’s company hope and to let them know that people are thinking of them and praying for them,” Oaks said. “I’m so excited to send these Thanksgiving packages. Keely and I plan to do holiday packages too.”

Items needed include energy drinks, 100 percent cotton, white t-shirts, socks and underwear, drink mixes, old blankets, antidiarrheal medicines and nonperishable food.

For a full list of items, visit the Volunteers Rock the World Facebook page.

C O N T A C T :

Bridget Hardy (865-974-2225,