December 11, 2008

Yorktown classroom sends gifts to Marines in Iraq

What was suggested as a letter to one local Marine turned into Christmas care packages and cards.


YORKTOWN -- Third-graders at Yorktown Elementary School are playing Santa for servicemen in Iraq.

Last month, students in teacher Amy Burgauer's class put together care packages and created Christmas cards to send to Jordan Woodruff, a local Marine serving in Iraq. The students put socks, T-shirts and various snacks in the packages, hoping to give the Marine and his peers a taste of East Central Indiana this holiday season.

And the children were more than happy to share the holiday spirit this season.

"It's helpful writing letters and sending stuff to the soldiers," said Seth Devers, 8. "They probably thought it was pretty awesome getting all the stuff they needed like snacks and socks. This was fun."

Woodruff's stepfather, Bruce Reed, originally told YES Principal Amanda Eller about his stepson's stay in Iraq hoping that maybe a class would think about writing a letter to Woodruff.

But when he discovered that entire classes was writing letters, creating Christmas cards and putting together care packages for his stepson, Reed was excited not only for his Woodruff, but for the students as well.

"It makes me feel good that the kids are doing this," he said. "It gives the kids a little perspective of what's going on in the world."

Burgauer agreed, saying the care package project gave students a chance to see how connected they are to people all around the world.

"For them to see that there's more to this world than just being right here is the biggest reason for doing this," she said. "Just giving them the big picture is really important to me."

YES students were excited to hear that Woodruff had received the cards and packages recently, and hoped that he and his fellow Marines would have a great Christmas even though they would be away from their families for the season.

Of the 25 students in Burgauer's class, 16 already knew someone who had served in Iraq at some point. Although most of the children had never spent time away from their families during the holidays, they empathize with the soldiers and their families this season.

"If I was away from my mom and dad for Christmas, I would be sad because I wouldn't be able to celebrate with them," said Stashia Brannon, 8. "I would still get presents, but I wouldn't be able to see my family."

But overall, the students were happy simply to give to someone else, especially those who are serving their countries thousands of miles away.

"This is important so that the soldiers have something from home so they can be excited," said Amona Ash, 9. "That way, they'll have happy holidays over there just like we do over here."