Brightening lives: Students adopt soldiers to offer good will from home

By Carolyn Cole
Published on January 17, 2007

Twenty local middle school students are sending small tastes of home and encouragement to American soldiers fighting in Iraq.

From socks and toothbrushes to poems, comics and Bible verses, Mustang North teacher Teri Hood’s enrichment class is sending their soldier pen pals gifts to try and cheer them on, as they face waves of unknown dangers and homesickness.

Area soldier Kyle Jackson wrote his new friends back that their support has helped.

“They have really brightened up our days on many occasions,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Jackson, a Yukon resident, and 14 other soldiers in his unit assigned to security duty at Camp Taqqadum in West Al Anbar province, have received letters from Hood’s students in which the children described their lives and asked the soldiers questions. Jackson wrote in an e-mail that his comrades wanted to write letters but facing frequent 18-hour shifts, they haven’t had time.

Working so many hours is exhausting, he wrote, but it has benefits.

“You get used to it, though, and it makes the time pass by quick,” he wrote.

Hood’s enrichment class started writing to Jackson after a teacher effort raised over 20 boxes in care packages to send his troop for the holidays. Children made Christmas cards for their pen pals and gathered additional supplies that Hood mailed to the unit using a donation from All America Bank.

Hood said her students are continuing to write to soldiers and signed a banner to mail to them. Student Dawn Tarrant wrote in her letter that she hoped the jokes she included would make her pen pal laugh.

“I really appreciate all that you are doing for our country,” she wrote. “You’re doing a good job, and I just wanted to say thank you.”

Katelynd Lambert included Bible verses from which she draws strength and asked her soldier questions about his family and life.

“I haven’t got a response yet, but I hope I do,” she said. “I would like to learn more.”

Jackson wrote in an e-mail to students that their efforts helped lift soldiers’ spirits.

“Thank you to all of the people who have taken the time to show some support to the troops overseas, but please don’t forget to remember the ones who have fallen for our right to be free,” he wrote.

Through writing the letters, student Michelle Bartley said she feels a stronger sense of civic responsibility.
“We should help anybody in need, and the troops are overseas fighting for other people’s rights,” she said.

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