Since the 2022 Russian invasion, Ukraine’s veteran population has increased from roughly 500,000 to over 1.2 million and counting, yet the country’s ability to support its servicemembers has declined due to the war’s impact on the economy and infrastructure. Two…
Spreading Orange Around the World, One Care Package at a Time
For a college student, a care package can provide a welcome link to life back home, providing items that make being away a little easier. Homemade cookies, magazines and other small items can bring great joy and a feeling of being connected and remembered.
This concept was not lost on Jason Yaley ’05, G’06. Yaley has close ties to the military, including his current role as Special Assistant to the Air Force Chief of Staff, Washington, D.C.
“I’ve always believed that public service is a public good, an idea that only grew during my time working on my M.P.A. at Maxwell” says Yaley. So he got to work creating a program called Orange Around the World. This is where the care package concept comes in The first Orange Around the World initiative was held in 2006.
Orange Around the World this year takes place during Philanthropy Week, which celebrates Syracuse’s rich history, spirit and tradition of serving others and taking place this year March 21-25. It is in that spirit that Yaley plans to return to campus to help out.
Syracuse University has 325 active-duty alumni in the Armed Services. Yaley’s goal is to provide each of them with a care package. His hope is the packages will be filled with donations from members of the Syracuse University community with items like playing cards, beef jerky or toiletries.
“Jason was one of those students who I always knew would do great things,” says Bianca Caiella Breed, assistant director in the Office of Gift Planning, who worked with Yaley during the first Orange Around the World effort. “He’s done so many incredible things since his time here and clearly holds Syracuse University and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families in high regard. We’re very fortunate to call Jason a member of our Orange family.”
There are a number of ways to take part in Orange Around the World. You can fill a box provided by the University, and then return your completed box for shipping. You can also donate individual items (a list can be found here) or sponsor an entire care package. For options to participate, you can also make a gift. See detail on the web page.
We recently asked Yaley the following three questions about Orange Around the World, and the pride he feels for his university. His answers speak volumes.
Q: Where did your idea come from?
A: While I was working on my M.P.A. at Maxwell, I had the opportunity to intern with the National Security Studies program, an executive development program for the Department of Defense, housed at Maxwell and a program that would later change the trajectory of my life completely when the attendees of the program pushed me toward my first job at the Pentagon.
Through that program, I had the chance to interact with some incredible military and civilian leaders who taught me what service really means. They exposed me to an entire group of selfless men and women who wear the uniform every day and want nothing more than to serve. They don’t want special treatment, they don’t want special recognition, they just want to serve. But my idea wasn’t anything earth-shattering—like so many others, I just wanted to find a way to serve those who serve our nation. I’d heard about care package drives—this was 2005/2006 and the height of combat operations. For me it was recognizing that those men and women in uniform weren’t some faceless population; they were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and many of them were fellow Orange. That pride in Orange doesn’t leave us when we leave Syracuse, so the idea was to both remind those alumni who took off the Orange shirt and put on a uniform that we as a University are grateful for their service, and to remind our campus and alumni that those serving around the world today were members of the same Orange community we sat next to in class a year ago, or who we cheered on the Orange with years before.
I went to the alumni relations office with a pitch, and an amazing woman, Bianca Caiella Breed, truly the secret to the success of this effort, partnered with me to make it happen. We had a rough start that first year to gain support, not because people didn’t want to give back, but they just didn’t know what we were doing. Thanks to Bianca’s efforts and the generosity of the SU community, we got the word out across campus, and before we knew it, we’d filled the alumni relations conference room with boxes floor to ceiling. That first year, we sent boxes around the world with anything we could find, from typical care package goods to Dinosaur BBQ and Syracuse pennants, and got countless pictures and letters back.
Q: How did Syracuse University play a role in your success?
A: Syracuse was a game-changer for me. The people, the academics, the experiences, the pride in the Orange—made me into the person I am today. Syracuse challenged me; it gave me the opportunity not just to succeed, but to fail and to learn from that failure. It exposed me to different points of view, it pushed me far beyond my comfort zone and taught me how to think. When people ask me what I walked away with from Syracuse, it was that idea of how to think, not what to think. I can’t describe to you each day when I use some sort of my experiences or education from Syracuse in my personal or professional life, but I know it happens countless times throughout the day. I know I think differently, I approach situations and analyze entire outcomes and engagements in a more effective way because I was given the chance to learn how to think.
Q: What do you miss most about campus?
A: The people and the pride in what it means to be Orange. I’m a relentless and unapologetic zealot for the Orange—I’m grateful for the opportunities my alma mater gave me and don’t hesitate to talk up Syracuse every chance I get. On campus, you’re surrounded by a group of people who share that pride. From my first tour of campus when I was looking at colleges to my last days there as a student, I loved that Orange pride—people across campus wearing Orange gear, camping out to get good seats for a basketball game to cheer on the Orange, or just the smile you saw when spotting Otto randomly walking across the Quad. Syracuse holds a ton of memories for me, people and experiences who made me who I am—that’s why I miss it.
The good news is campus has no boundaries. I love seeing fellow Orange alums in D.C. and across the country. You have a common bond—you know to stand up and clap before the first basket no matter what stadium you’re in, you know that “Real Men Wear Orange,” and that to be a Syracuse alum is truly something incredible. I bleed Orange!”