Hats For Healing on Sale at UNH Shipped to Iraq
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
December 17, 2008
If you’ve noticed the Navy blue baseball caps near the register at the Wildcatessen or at the bookstore and other points around campus, you know that “Operation Hat Trick” isn’t about hockey, it’s about supporting returning soldiers who have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
UNH Athletics came up with the idea to sell the hats whose crowns are embroidered with that phrase, “Operation Hat Trick,” as a way to raise money for the wounded soldiers. The project is dedicated to the memory of Nate Hardy, a Navy SEAL killed in Iraq in February. Both of Hardy’s parents work at UNH.
A reference to a hockey player scoring three goals in one game, Operation Hat Trick was launched in response to a report indicating servicemen with head injuries sustained in the wars were asking for ball caps to cover their wounds and scars.
One of every three hats sold ($19.99 each) is being donated to the recreation therapy program at New Hampshire’s Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Manchester.
The athletic department partnered with Turfer Sports out of Rhode Island; Northeast Passage, a therapeutic recreational program at UNH; and the VA hospital and all of the military branches.
Earlier this week members of UNH men’s and women’s hockey teams traveled to Manchester to deliver more than 300 hats. Players and coaches handed out hats and signed autographs for veterans.
And last week, hats were shipped to Iraq along with other UNH sports memorabilia after the Alumni Center received a letter from Sgt. 1st Class Steven Garcesa with the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Camp Victory. His unit is in the process of creating a ‘wall of schools’ to depict soldiers’ support for their hometown schools.
Although he didn’t attend UNH, Garcesa is a big fan, says Sarah Potter, associate executive director of the Alumni Center.
“He happens to love UNH; he follows our teams,” Potter says, adding a box with assorted items from UNH athletics and including Operation Hat Trick ball caps has been sent to Iraq.
“We shipped it out last week with a note of thanks for serving our country,” Potter says. “Nothing could be more perfect than the hats. They were a big hit.”
In addition to the Wildcatessen and the UNH Bookstore, hats can be purchased at the hockey games and from the athletic department, Hayden Sports, Town and Campus (www.collegegear.com) and sportsdesigns.com (www.unhwildcats.com).