The College Republicans have found a good use for that loose change on the counter, not to mention those back issues of Newsweek and InStyle piling up next to students’ stacks of unread textbooks.

The club’s “Support Our Troops” campaign, which has been in front of the UCen every day this week, encourages students to bring a variety of items and financial donations for care packages that will be mailed to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. The group will accept donations such as magazines, prepaid phone cards, batteries and beef jerky through 2 p.m. today.

College Republicans’ membership chair Eva Kilamyan said she hopes students will donate anything they can to the care-package drive regardless of their political affiliation.

“This is an issue that most of the campus agrees upon,” Kilamyan, a third-year political science and women’s studies major said. “It’s not partisan at all, and so far we’ve had a lot of support from the Campus Democrats and other groups on campus.”

Several sororities and fraternities have also offered to create care packages for the cause, but Kilamyan said more donations are needed. She said students who have yet to make a contribution should bring in items that can be mailed instead of monetary donations.

“It would be a lot more personal if they brought letters or items as opposed to financial donations,” Kilamyan said.

In particular, she said the troops would appreciate entertainment items such as playing cards and board games to amuse themselves with during leisure time. The club is also soliciting toiletries such as razors, baby wipes, toothpaste, zip-lock storage bags and snacks that will not easily melt.

Kilamyan said many passers-by have shown financial generosity that exceeded her expectations.

“We are selling pins for $1 to raise money for shipping costs,” she said. “But I had one person offer to pay $20 for a ribbon. The response has been really great.”

Although donations have been coming in throughout the week, Kilamyan said the club will not know if it has reached its goal until the conclusion of the care package drive today at 2 p.m.

“The College Republicans want everyone to know that we are out here, we care, and we’re involved,” Kilamyan said. “But our primary goal is to get stuff to the troops so that they will know that people at UCSB care.”