The Rebuilding Warriors Raffle Drawing took place May 1 on the Miron Student Center Patio. This service project, conducted by Student Organization, focused on selling raffle tickets for $5 apiece in order to raise money for purchasing service dogs for student veterans at Kean.
While the event took place at the end of this semester, the Rebuilding Warriors raffle has been a yearlong effort by members of the Office of Student Government. During the current and previous semesters, tickets were on sale for $5 apiece in both the Miron Student Center and Hutchinson Hall, while members of Student Organization and Graduate and Part-Time Student Council (GPSC) dedicated themselves to attending various school events to promote and sell the tickets.
All who joined the raffle had a chance of winning either a $1,500 Visa gift card, a $1,000 Visa gift card, or a $500 Visa gift card. The following winners of these prizes were drawn and announced at this event respectively: Cecilia Covino, Bruce Marshall, and Robert Bombara.
Rebuilding Warriors is a nonprofit organization with a mission of improving the lives of veterans by equipping them with service dogs. A veteran must meet certain criteria in order to be provided with one of their service dogs, including receiving an honorable discharge from service and being diagnosed with mental disorder. Because of the importance of this cause, the raffle drawing also offered students the chance to learn more about some of the hardworking people associated with this fundraiser on top of determining the raffle winners.
The event began with opening statements by Francisco Reyes, the current vice president and president-elect of Student Organization, and Hailey Cruz, the current president of the Graduate and Part-Time Student Council. Both expressed their gratefulness to everyone who participated in the raffle, whether that was through buying and selling tickets, promoting the cause, or attending the drawing.
Cruz went on to explain the importance and background of this project, as well as how the efforts of all who participated have furthered the cause.
“The purpose of Rebuilding Warriors is to raise money for a service dog for a Kean University veteran student, and the student is not just any veteran student. The student may have suffered from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, or a certain disability,” Cruz said. “The cost of one service dog is $11,000, but with the efforts of everyone here combined and your generous donations, we have raised $19,569 and we still have more donations coming in.”
Cruz then invited Vito Zajda, the director of Veteran Student Services at Kean, to speak to the audience. Zajda talked about how Kean is gaining a reputation for its dedication to veterans affairs, especially throughout Union County.
Jeff Mullins, the vice president of Rebuilding Warriors, also spoke at and attended the raffle drawing with his own service dog, Zoey. Mullins has been a member of Rebuilding Warriors since 2013, and used the opportunity to inform the audience about his organization’s efforts.
“It’s about a 12 to 14 month training program depending on the disabilities that the veteran has,” Mullins said. “We don’t train the dog all by itself; we find out what the veteran’s needs are and match the dog to the veteran.”
After the winners of the raffle were selected, the closing statement was given by Stephanie Faser, the director of the Office of Student Government, who once again thanked the attendees for going above and beyond to service Kean’s student veterans.
“You not only purchased tickets, but a lot of people volunteered their time to sell the tickets at a lot of our performing centers, athletics, to your friends and family. It’s amazing how Kean University always comes together and supports the different departments,” Faser said.
The recipients of the service dogs have not been chosen yet, but Mullins said that numerous student veterans have reached out for consideration. With the evaluation and selection processes underway, the goals of this dedicated service project will soon become a reality.