Drip drop . . . the rain droplets hit the ground and echo through the street. Everything is quiet; yet, your heart starts racing as you see a figure begin to form. Your hands suddenly get clammy. The figure goes the opposite direction, leading you to let out a sigh of relief. You continue to walk — and then race into your home, happy that you have made it another day.
Imagine living in a world where simple things, such as walking home, are terrifying.
Lucky for us Americans, we don’t generally have to worry because our soldiers guard our freedoms to ensure our safety. This is why the Raider Reps decided to raise money to create care packages for troops deployed away from home during the winter holidays.
“I think that it took a lot of thought and heart for the Raider Reps to collect donations,” Keyondre Stratford, 9th, said.
Assistant principal Mrs. Rathbun was the one who first got the students involved. Because of her inspiration, Kimmons raised $150 dollars in addition to items donated by teachers.
“I decided to help out because I know our former principal, Jim Garvey, is deployed overseas with the Arkansas Air National Guard, and I wanted to do something for our troops,” Mrs. Rathbun said. “What better way than to help out one of our own?”
Mr. Garvey’s unit is deployed to an isolated location with only Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs). Thus, donations included items like magazines, eye drops, Christmas decorations, and pre-packaged non-perishable food. Students also wrote letters to soldiers to add to the care packages.
“I wrote a letter because sometimes one small thing can brighten a person’s day,” Joleen Grober, 8th, said.
Some of the students wrote the letters because their loved ones also served.
“I wrote the letter to a soldier because both of my grandfathers were in a war, and I wanted the troops to know that someone cares,” Samantha Glavanosky, 8th, said.
Mrs. Ehnle and Mrs. Ray bought more items with the money donated, boxed everything up, and shipped the boxes by Dec. 7th to ensure delivery by Christmas.
Kimmons teachers who are veterans can relate to the soldiers’ situation and know how important the care packages are.
Mr. Shaffer, math teacher, served 24 years active duty in the Air Force and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8).
“I enlisted in the Air Force to continue a legacy that was started a few generations back in my family,” Mr. Shaffer said. “Serving in the military meant that I was able to give back to my country and helped defend the precious freedoms that we hold close to our heart.”
As Mr. Schaffer knows, care packages help boost the morale of the troops. In his first eight years in the military, he was deployed during Thanksgiving and Christmas seven different times.
“One of the hardest things to deal with during a long deployment is not being able to see your family,” Mr. Shaffer said. “The care packages over holidays really enhances the esprit de corps and bring a touch of home to distant and dark parts of the world.”
Another one of our staff who enlisted to maintain a family legacy is Language Arts teacher Ms. Mullin. Her father, brother, and many others on both her mother’s and father’s sides of the family had served. While teaching high school English in Oklahoma, Ms. Mullin served eight years in the Navy Reserve as a journalist.
“Even though I am not a veteran by the true sense of the word, I met several soldiers who were deployed away from their families,” Ms. Mullin said. “Going on annual training helped me gain insight into the sacrifice these incredible men and women make to protect our freedoms and defend democracy.”
Mrs. Malanowski served six years in the Army as military police. She enlisted so as to “stand up for those who are unable to defend themselves.”
“The deployed soldiers would be reminded that we are thankful for what they do and that we haven’t forgotten about them being overseas,” Mrs. Malanowski said. “It’s especially hard to be away from loved ones during the holidays, and the care packages and the letters would help comfort them.”
Mr. Morris, social studies teacher, served six years in the Marine Corps as a light armored vehicle driver and gunner. He enlisted because he felt it was his duty.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine!” Mr. Morris said. “Semper Fideles means ‘always faithful.’ No matter where or when, you are forever a Marine and as such are a member of a family that you can count on.”
The Treats for Troops service project helps service members to know they are part of a larger family.
“The care packages and letters would be a positive distraction and break from the daily routine,” Mr. Morris said. “It is important for the troops to know they are appreciated and not forgotten.”
“A Soldier’s Christmas”: