Elementary students at Union School have raised hundreds of dollars to purchase supplies for an Army troop serving overseas.
“I wanted to help them because they have been helping our country for a long time and I wanted to give them some money and thank them for helping our country,” Union School third-grader Alex Binau said.
“They’re important and I’m thankful for them and I just really want to help them,” Binau’s classmate Mackenzie Honaker added. “That way, they can survive and be able to keep us safe.”
The idea for the effort started at First Lutheran Church, where members bought a shop vac and other supplies for the troop, which includes U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Snow, of Upper Sandusky, who currently is serving in Afghanistan. Union Elementary students in kindergarten through third grades collected coins and dollars to purchase needed items for Snow’s unit stationed at Camp Stone in Herat, Afghanistan.
“I got the idea to collect money because Sgt. Snow attended our church and the congregation was taking donations for items,” Union Elementary Principal Janine McMillan said. “I thought it would be a great way for the kids to show their support for our troops. I asked the teachers and they liked the idea so I put the plan in motion.”
The collection was a major event at the school. For nearly three weeks, each teacher had large plastic containers in their rooms to collect change daily. McMillan went to each room once a week with a large Plexiglas container in which the students dumped their money. The progress of the collection was charted in the hallway at the school so the students could see how much they were collecting.
“I’m just so proud of the kids,” McMillan said. “They brought in dimes, nickels, pennies, quarters, dollars, whatever they had.”
The students began collecting money April 10 and concluded their collection on April 30, with a total of $478.
“(The soldiers) help us and they have been away from their families for a long time and I gave them money so they can have stuff that they need to survive,” Union student Blake Herbert said.
Teachers from each of the 12 classrooms chose one student to go with McMillan to The First Citizens National Bank to count the change, which included more than 10,000 pennies. Earl Kidwell, a customer who was doing business at the bank, donated another $22 to make the total an even $500.
“I thought it was phenomenal,” McMillan said. “The outpouring of respect that they had for people they’ve never known in the short amount of time that we had, I was overwhelmed about the amount of money that they brought in. We had kids that were bringing baggies in of their own change that they had saved up or money that somebody had given them. They talked to their grandparents and their aunts and uncles and they were sending in money too.”
The money is being used to purchase items for the unit, including bed rolls, Q-tips, baby wipes, Tums, mole skin, body wash, ear plugs, razors and shaving cream. Any remaining money after shipping the items overseas will be donated to the local VFW.
“Right now it’s getting so hot in Afghanistan that they’re all shaving their heads, anything to get as cool as possible,” McMillan said. “We purchased tons of razors and shaving cream.
“The earplugs are something that (Snow’s) wife had sent to him and the rest of his unit thought, ‘Oh, what a great idea,’ so we bought several of those too,” McMillan added.
This is Snow’s third tour of duty overseas. His daughter Kayci is a student at Union Middle School.
“I was so surprised,” said Snow’s wife Rhonda. “When (McMillan) called me up, I had no idea that they were collecting the money and it was a big surprise to me. I want to say thank you to the whole school for doing it and to Janine for initiating it.”
McMillan soon will be shipping the items off to Afghanistan, along with notes from the students, who wanted to say thank you to the troops.
“I want to thank the soldiers for fighting for our country,” Kylee Swartz said. “I know how important they are to us.”
“I gave them money because I really want them to have a good time and I just don’t want to let them down,” Keegan Scott added. “I want to tell them, ‘Thank you for fighting for our country.’”
By CHANDA NEELY