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thedrifter
11-03-06, 07:37 AM
Schools gather packages for Marines
Lesson teaches about daily lives of armed services
Published Wednesday November 1 2006
By DAN WILLIAMSON
The Island Packet

HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- War is hell. But sometimes it can also be lonely and dull.

It's hard to explain that to people who have never served in the military, said former Marine Sgt. Clay Duplantis, who was describing his experience in Iraq to the student council at Hilton Head International Baccalaureate Elementary School on Tuesday.

"War is unpredictable," Duplantis told the students. "It gets really intense sometimes, but sometimes you're like, 'What do we do?' You get bored."

Duplantis was at the school to help the students understand what everyday life is like for troops serving in the war zone, as the children lead an effort to provide those troops with care packages for Christmas. The effort is designed to fit in with lessons on world conflicts, said student council adviser Catherine Crum. By meeting Duplantis and connecting with troops in Iraq, Crum hopes the students will better understand how the war affects people.

"This puts a personal spin on the educational aspect of it," Crum said. "In Beaufort, the Marines are everywhere, but down here, they're not. I wanted to bring it down here."

Crum knows how grateful troops are to receive simple everyday items because her son, Justin Crum, is serving with the Army in Iraq. Many items take on a new importance in a war zone, such as cotton swabs, which soldiers use to clean their weapons.

The troops are always grateful to get packages from home, Duplantis said.

"When you see your Christmas tree and all the presents are under there, you run up there and tear them apart, right? That's what Marines and soldiers do to boxes that come there," Duplantis told the students.

Troops also enjoy getting candy and other snacks to break up the monotony of military cooking, Duplantis said.

"We ate pretty good; it's just that Monday was fried chicken, Tuesday was pork, Wednesday was Chinese or whatever, and it happened every week like that for seven months," Duplantis said. "So you get pretty bored with the food."

The school is collecting names and addresses for friends and relatives of students and employees to send care packages to, Crum said. Some packages also will be sent to general military units. Kindergarten classes at Okatie Elementary School are leading a similar effort to put together care packages for Marines in Iraq.

Crum hopes the students' efforts will help make life a little bit better for those who are serving their country at a time of war.

"It's a very lonely world over there," Crum said. "I want them to know that people care about them."

Ellie