Students at Southern Utah State College, Cedar City, are putting together dozens of "care packages" to show Americans in the Middle East that they're thinking of them.

They will be assembling the kits on Thursday in the Student Center with donated items such as music tapes, candy, chewing gum, beef jerky, lip balm, chess sets, cards, darts, sun block, soap, scissors and shaving cream. Several area merchants have donated items for the packages.In addition, the students, mayor of Cedar City and college officials will be signing a large greeting card to send to the troops.

"I don't think it really hit home to the students here on campus until one of our really well-known students was sent," said student body president Julie Stuart. That man, a chief yell leader in the school's cheerleading squad, was called up as a member of the 144th Evacuation Hospital of the Utah National Guard, which is on its way to Saudi Arabia to support Operation Desert Shield.

Students at the college suddenly realized the confrontation was hitting close to home, she said.

"Instead of doing a type of protest . . . why not let them know we care and support them in what they're doing?"

Among the items students are donating are all kinds of used sports equipment.