While students at area Catholic elementary schools enjoy a four-day weekend and look forward to a Christmas season with family, some took some time recently to help brighten the holidays for American military personnel.
Seventh-graders at St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Wilmington worked with members of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary to make pocket flags, while the third grade at Christ the Teacher School in Glasgow prepared “snowman soup.”
At St. Elizabeth’s, teacher Mary Jean Quill opens each class with a prayer for the military, and her students are studying American history, so the Pocket Flag Project fit in nicely with the curriculum. It was the idea of Mason Gibbs, a student whose aunt, Nancy Lawrence, a member of the legion’s Ladies Auxiliary, had mentioned the project to her.
Gibbs said she approached Quill “so we could let our troops know we are thinking about them.”
“I thought it was an incredible way to honor our military,” Quill said.
The six auxiliary members, who drove up from Sussex County, brought 300 small American flags with them for the 45 seventh-graders to fold. The day began with a short lesson on how to folded the flag and why it there are 13 folds.
Beth McGinn, president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, said the project was started in 2001 by the Cub Scouts. The flags are folded and placed into a small plastic bag, along with a personal note from the student who folded it. Flags are sent to military overseas or to those who are about to deploy.
“It’s supposed to be a little piece of home they carry in their pockets,” McGinn said.
Lindsey Brady, a seventh-grader, said, “I think it’s a good idea to honor our soldiers for protecting our country.”
Her classmate, John DiSabatino, said his great-grandfather and grandfather served in the U.S. military to gain their citizenship. He said this is a small way to thank them for putting their lives on the line.
“If the military can’t talk to their families, they have something to remember home by,” he said.
A sample of the messages from St. Elizabeth students, which can only include first names: “Thank you for doing all the awesome deeds for our country.” – Arabia
“I hope you have a great holiday. I hope you know I will be remembering you.” – John
Candy, poems, notes
Meanwhile, at Christ the Teacher, students in all grades collected almost 500 pounds of candy for the military as part of the Snowman Soup project, according to third-grade teacher Jeanne Jerzak. Two dentists bought the candy from the school, and ingredients for the soup were purchased.
Third-graders in Jerzak’s and Liz Phillips’ classes put the soup packets together. Each one included an unopened packet of hot chocolate, a candy cane, some Hershey Kisses, miniature marshmallows and a poem or note.
“They are making up their own poems and messages to the soldiers,” Jerzak said.
Each student was responsible for three packages; at least 180 will be sent to soldiers, she added. As with the Pocket Flag Project, only first names could be included.
One of the poems, written by Grace and Carissa, reads: “Spirits are bright, Christmas lights, too. Here is a gift from my heart to you!”
Logan wrote: “With freezing weather drawing near you’ll need to warm the spirit. So here’s a little snowman soup. I hope you like it, from me to you.”
Rachel Sisson said the project is important “so they can be happy and they can have a treat.” Soldiers, she said, deserve to be remembered during the holidays.
Her classmate, James Delia, said the troops need something to help them relax, especially since they can’t be home to see their families. Like many of his classmates, he contributed a portion of his Halloween candy to the school’s effort.
“It’s not like giving away your candy for no good reason,” he said.
According to Jerzak, the bags of Snowman Soup were being sent to Stockings for Soldiers, which runs the program. The project fits in with the school’s theme for the year, “Superstars in Service.”
Kaiden Reamer, one of Jerzak’s students, said the project was hard and easy. It was hard because he had to do a lot of writing, but easy because it involved a lot of coloring and cutting paper snowmen with scissors. And it was worthwhile because it was for our troops.
“I just want them to feel happy and stay warm through the whole winter,” he said.