Sending Christmas cheer overseas

The project was undertaken through the school’s EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative, where students work independently on projects that solve real-world problems. They often do work that benefits the community. Students come up with their own ideas for projects and see them through. A facilitator approves appropriate projects and helps students find means to complete them.

Misty Burgess, EAST facilitator, said Blacksmith was having trouble concentrating in class because his father was going overseas for military service.

“The main reason he did it was because he was worried his father was leaving him. I told him if he was that worried about it, we could do something to help the soldiers.”

She said Blacksmith researched ways to help, discovered what other civilians had done and made the decision to send care packages.

Blacksmith is in the eighth grade. He said his father is a construction mechanic in the Navy and served in Iraq for a year about three years ago. One of the most interesting things about his father, he said, is the wide range of abilities he has. His father used to work as an executive chef.

“I wanted to do this because I knew my dad was leaving, so I wanted to do something for the soldiers,” Blacksmith said.

Blacksmith and Green created flyers and posted them around the school to inform students, teachers and parents about the collection for the care boxes. They also handed out flyers at local businesses. They collected items at home football games, and First Service Bank and the junior high office served as collection points as well. In an effort to be more visible at the football games, Blacksmith dressed like a soldier, and Green dressed in patriotic colors.

Burgess said, “We had teachers donate, (and) parents. People gave cash donations.”

Blacksmith said it took about two months to gather enough items for 22 boxes for his father’s unit. Items in the boxes included snack food, Christmas decorations, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pens, DVDs, CDs, books and “501 LIFE” magazines.

Burgess said Blacksmith’s mother, Ginger, is having a 6-foot Christmas tree shipped to the sailors to brighten their holiday.

The students will ship the boxes immediately after Thanksgiving in hopes that they will arrive in time for Christmas.

Burgess said, “I think they’ve done a great job, and it’s a huge project they’ve undertaken.”