Local spearheads school supply drive | VailDaily.com

Local spearheads school supply drive

Cindy Ramunno
Special to the Daily Eduardo Campos and Arlo Carpenter assembling a box of school supplies to send to Iraqi children.

When part-time resident Tom Naugle read about Operation Iraqi Children, he said, he decided to put his grandchildren to work.Naugle and his wife, Barbara live in Cordillera. When the five kids came to visit this past summer they began gathering school supplies to send to Iraq. Naugle then called the Youth Foundation to see if the idea could be expanded to other youths in the valley. Students from Eagle Valley High School, along with Copy Plus in Eagle, the UPS Store, and the Youth Foundation came together to assemble 180 school-supply kits for children in Iraq.Letters were also written to American soldiers who will be delivering the supplies to Iraqi students. Messages included:

“You are a hero and I honor your courage for helping families in Iraq.””I try to imagine what it’s like to be in your shoes. Do you fear for your life everyday? Do you think every morning, ‘I am putting my life on the line?’ or is it too hard to even consider that? I bet you miss friends and family and I’d just like to say that I really appreciate what you’re doing.”Kids in the Youth Foundation’s Summer Options programs were involved. “The kids did the grunt work and businesses, volunteers and the Naugles generously donated to make this a reality,” says Susie Davis of the Youth Foundation. “The students learned team-building skills and were real contributors.”

Davis says the efforts provided school supplies to kids in Iraq; provided volunteer opportunities for local students; helped with ambassadorship since US soldiers deliver the kits; and also built a place of common unity.At Eagle Valley High School, students enrolled in the ‘Step Up to High School Program’ helped create the kits. The program focuses on character education and study skills for incoming freshmen.Teacher Ron Beard says that students felt honored to help with the mission.”It was a wonderful character-building experience for our students,” says Beard, who adds that for the most part, kids said the soldiers are selfless, courageous and kind-hearted.

Students also got a jump start on their community service hours, which are ow required by state universities and colleges.”They had fun and realized the importance of helping those who are less fortunate,” Beard says.To Learn MoreFor more information on Project Iraqi Children, log on to http://www.operationiraqichildren.org. For more information on programs sponsored by the Youth Foundation, call 926-3788.

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