By AREENA ARORA (Courtesy Idaho-Press Tribune)

CALDWELL — Boise State University chose the Idaho Veterans Garden as the recipient of $5,000 raised in partnership with Operation Hat Trick.

At a small ceremony Friday morning, Boise State’s veteran services office presented the check to the local charity.

The Idaho Veterans Garden has been a therapeutic garden and gathering place for the community, especially veterans, since its opening in 2013.

Operation Hat Trick is a nonprofit that works to help veterans and families recover from wounds of war and transition smoothly into civilian life. The group partners with professional sports teams, colleges and universities to help generate revenue for the cause.

BSU was chosen as one of 300 participating universities to receive the Excellence in Service Award. The award recognizes universities that go above and beyond to support Operation Hat Trick’s mission.


University bookstores partner with the nonprofit to sell hats and other branded merchandise with Operation Hat Trick’s logo on it. The profits are donated back to the organization who then donate funds to other organizations such as Homes for Our Troops, Navy SEAL Foundation and the Semper Fi Fund that help veterans and families.

BSU won $5,000 as part of its service award, which the university’s veteran services office decided to donate to the Idaho Veterans Garden.

Sean Hunter, outreach coordinator for Boise State’s veteran services, said he was impressed with the work the veterans garden does.

“How could you not support what is done here?” Hunter said. “You can see real impact here.”

The donation will be used to help build a new office at the garden to better administer services, according to Danny Pugmire, project manager at the garden.

Frank Ellsbury, a local Vietnam War Marine Corps veteran who spends four to five hours almost everyday at the garden, said he is grateful for the donation.

The veteran services program at BSU does more than just partnering with operation hat trick. It is a resource for veteran students providing them guidance and support.

Marcus Weeks, a veteran and student who served in the military for six years was present at the Friday ceremony. Weeks helped with the sales for Operation Hat Trick. The support system at BSU, Weeks said, has helped him grow. He said he was grateful to be able to help out with the project.

June Pugmire, who helps her husband Danny Pugmire run the garden, said the garden helps bring hope to veterans and families.

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Show veterans that their lives off the battlefield are just as important to our country as their service on it.

Operation Hat Trick is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.