Patsy Dudley walked into her office one morning last month and immediately felt like she had been transported somewhere else.

(From left) Patsy Dudley, Lindsay Aaron, Stephanie Ensminger, Mike Cothran and Ashley Wilhelm pack boxes of supplies the School of Nursing is sending to U.S. Army nurses in Iraq.


Some comforts of home needed by U.S. Army nurses are:
For the patients
Flip flops, all sizes • Liquid soap (Old Spice, Irish Spring) • Deodorant • Shaving cream • Gold Bond powder • Patient gowns • AAA batteries • Infant hats, clothes, socks, blankets • Twin-sized flat sheets

For the nurses
Shampoo and conditioner • Shower gels • Febreeze fabric dryer sheets • Coffee • Chocolate • Microwave popcorn

“It looked like a Wal-Mart,” she says.

Flip flops, deodorant, shaving cream, AAA batteries, infant clothes, shampoo, conditioner and coffee were among the items stacked floor to ceiling. Her office was the staging area for the Student Nurses Association (SNA) project Nurses Helping Nurses. The group has been actively seeking donated items to send to U.S. Army nurses serving at a hospital in Iraq in an effort to help both the nursing staff and the Iraqi people.

They began sending boxes of supplies in early May, and have mailed more than 40 boxes of toiletries, batteries, bed sheets, microwave popcorn and other items.

“We do community projects, educational projects, fund raisers, and we assist with things here at the school, but we hadn’t yet taken on a project with global reach,” says Dudley, advisor of the SNA. “When this came along, it was the perfect opportunity to tie what we were doing as an organization in with the mission of the school.”

Stephanie Ensminger, a third-semester nursing student and president of the SNA, liked the idea, too. The group placed boxes throughout the UAB School of Nursing and made announcements in their classes. Dudley alerted nursing faculty and staff in the school of the project. Supplies began coming in quickly, and other organizations such as the Central Alabama Nurse Practitioners donated items and money that was put toward shipping costs.

“Nursing students have really supported the project, branching out beyond the school to their churches asking for donations,” Ensminger says. “And we are so thankful to the faculty. Their support has helped this project tremendously and kept it going.”

Caring for Iraqi’s, U.S. soldiers
The project came about after a nursing faculty member received an e-mail from a UAB alumnus and Army nurse in Iraq mentioning how their roles were changing at the hospital.

Iraqis have become more comfortable seeking care from Army medical personnel. As a result, Army nurses and doctors are delivering babies and caring for burn victims, including children.

“They’re taking care of the Iraqi nationals in addition to our soldiers,” Dudley says. “In doing so, sometimes they don’t have everything they need.” The SNA created the Nurses Helping Nurses project as a way to get them comfort items from home for themselves – and items such as newborn baby clothes and blankets to give the Iraqi families leaving the hospital with a new child.

“I thought this would be a good project because student nurses need to support the nurses that are out there working, especially those serving the country,” Dudley says. “It helps connect the students with these nurses. They see nurses within the hospital and in various community settings, but I wanted them to think about those who go even further.”

The Army nurses received their first packages in late May, and the thank-you notes from Iraq to the School of Nursing staff and students soon followed.

“I’ve lived abroad before and something as simple as having items from home that you can recognize adds some comfort to your day,” Ensminger says. “We just want to try and brighten their day with some comfort things for them and things they can use to care for their patients. We want to make their jobs easier.”

Those interested in donating products are asked to bring them to the first floor at the School of Nursing. The project will run through the summer. For more information, contact Patricia Dudley at or Stephanie Ensminger at