Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2004

Now playing: fund-raising effort to provide wounded soldiers with movies

December 9, 2004

Sometimes even a student can be a wise teacher.

That may be the most valuable lesson learned from a recent fund-raising push by Basehor Elementary School students to provide wounded soldiers some cheer this holiday season.

During the past few weeks students from the elementary school and sixth grade center raised more than $700 to purchase items for the "Take a Wounded Soldier to the Movies" program. The money was used to buy DVD movies, popcorn, candy and a telephone card, all of which will be included in packets for 22 military veterans injured from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I was just hoping we'd be able to send five packets out," said Ellen Knight, elementary school counselor who helped spearhead the local fund-raising effort. "It was amazing how much students raised. I was overwhelmed.

"We do a lot of things for other people this time of year so I wasn't sure how much we'd raise. I was pleasantly surprised. The students were awesome. Totally awesome."

Initially, the local fund-raising effort to provide soldiers at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with holiday gifts began by placing a donation jar in each elementary school and sixth-grade center classroom. Students were asked to donate any loose change or coins they could spare.

Soon, Knight said, school officials began noticing just as much green as copper. Many students were able to deposit dollar bills into the donation jars, and even a few dropped in as much as $50.

"They could bring in whatever they wanted to," Knight said. "Last week we picked it up . . . it was just amazing. Really amazing."

On Monday morning, Knight could be found sifting through the DVD bin at the Bonner Springs Wal-Mart. She picked out movies for the soldiers that were rated either PG or PG-13 and did not duplicate selections.

"I thought if they were different (the soldiers) would have more of a selection," she said. Westerns, sci-fi flicks and buddy movies were among the films chosen for sending overseas.

For Knight, the program to provide veterans with some joy this holiday season is particularly important.

Her son is in the Army ]and will soon be rotated back to Afghanistan; her son-in-law serves in the Air Force.

"This was interesting to me on a personal basis," Knight said.

When the idea of the program was brought to the student body, though, it really took off. Many students reported having family members serving in the military now or in the past, Knight said.

The fund-raising drive eventually moved from a school effort to a community one, the counselor said.

Students helped organize the packets Monday. They were to be mailed to Germany Wednesday and should arrive by the end of next week.

Included in the packets were letters and cards from students as well as a stamped envelope addressed back to the elementary school for soldiers to write back to students.

"The kids were really excited about doing this," Knight said.

"Hopefully the soldiers will write back to us and tell us about getting the packets. I'm sure the kids would like to know about it."

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