GILBERT — The Larry Joe Harless Community Center After School program has included in their November curriculum Veteran’s Day and what it means to our country. Under the leadership of Ashley Tolley and Savannah Belcher, the children have decided to collect items for our military troops through the organization Support Our Troops.
“The idea started a few months ago when we were thinking about ways to instill the idea of giving into the students,” said Belcher.
The Care Paks project enhances the morale and welfare of the deployed troops worldwide by seeking, receiving, and shipping to the front lines care boxes containing items specifically requested by the deployed troops. This is especially important outside the established holidays.
“We are looking for local people who are deployed overseas to give them care packages first,” said Tolley. “If we get more packages than we have local people to send them to then we will send the packages to Daytona where they will be sent out randomly.”
According to Tolley, the United States military is something that is very close to her and her family since her grandfather was killed in the Vietnam War.
“My papaw, Randall Ellis, was killed when my mamaw was seven months pregnant with my mom,” said Tolley. “The Vietnam War was a war that really got our soldiers treated so badly so my whole family is very big on the military.”
The children will be collecting items listed below for the Care Paks project. The items, along with personal notes from the children, will be mailed after December 6, 2015. Their goal is to send 20 separate care packages to our troops. A $15 fee to ship each package must be included.
The LJHCC After School program is for children in second to sixth grade and is free to anyone. At after school, children get a snack, crafts to make, a recreational activity and help with their homework.
“We do alot of help with common core and that actually helps most of the parents,” said Belcher. “Alot of parents don’t understand the homework lessons so we try to take as much burden as we can off of them.”
Students first learned about the military, veterans and soldiers because of Veteran’s Day but according to Tolley, the students are so excited to put care packages together.
“I was very excited when the staff came to me with this idea,” said Cheryl Mitchem, LJHCC Executive Director. “It is such a great way to teach our children not only the respect those that serve deserve for the sacrifices they make but also begins to instill in the children the value of truly giving of oneself.”
Items may be dropped off at the center and include: phone cards; wet/body wipes; chap stick; foot powder; batteries; beef jerky; hand warmers; cards; and writing materials. A full list of items may be found at the LJHCC reception desk.
“Soldiers give us so much so why can’t we give something back to them,” said Tolley. “Every single donation will help.”
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Gilbert Times. Madalin can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 304-664-8225.