Sending a package to the U.S. military troops overseas is tougher than it sounds.
Students in the eighth-grade exploratory class at Beaty-Warren Middle School taught by Holly Burt, Steve Onuffer, and Rebecca Gnage have learned that in recent weeks.
Spurred by correspondence from Burt's son, who is stationed in Afghanistan, students have been working throughout the school year on what they have coined "Mission Outlaw." The inspiration for the name came from Sgt. Matthew Burt's platoon, the Alpha Outlaws.
Photo by Brian Collins
Students pack boxes with the help of teacher Holly Burt at Beaty-Warren Middle School. The packages are destined for U.S. service personnel in Afghanistan.
The class has taught students about the cost, time, and effort it takes to collect enough items to ship care packages to an entire platoon. "It makes you feel good to know you're helping," said student Noah Becker as the class nears its goal of sending 20 care packages.
Throughout the school year, the students in the class have collected items such as pens, playing cards, activity books, and food items. To aid in the collection process, the students created flyers advertising "team work" and "Christmas Mission Outlaw," among other phrases. "The class taught me to do good for people, especially at Christmas," said Kennidee Martin. "It was fun gathering it all together."
As items for the parcels piled up, Burt and others had to focus on the expensive cost and complex process of shipping the packages to Afghanistan. Even with flat rate shipping boxes from the post office, shipping costs amounted to nearly $270.
Immediately upon hearing of the intentions of the class, the local AMVETS, Mr. Elm, a private donor, and the local Walmart stepped forward with donations totalling $475, more than enough to cover the cost of shipping. In addition to the donations, students were able to raise an additional $243.50 through lunch-time collections by the students and teacher donations. "It's amazing that we got everyone together to help," added Becker.
With shipping costs covered, focus could be turned to finding additional items that would really help the troops. "We had to shift gears," explained Burt. "It got so cold over there. It's 30 degrees and they're 7,000 feet up." Handwarmers and heavy wool socks were able to be purchased with the surplus from the donations in order to meet the needs of Sgt. Burt's platoon.
As Christmas time approaches, the stress of being deployed along with being away from family can affect the troops. To combat that nearly all of the eighth-grade students took the time to write letters and make ornaments for the troops' Christmas tree. "It's important for us to make sure they know they're still remembered," said Taylor Knowlton. Performances from previous Beaty choir concerts were even compiled by Rob Pearce and made into CDs to be added to the packages.
As the final boxes were packed and wrapped on Tuesday, Nov. 20., students learned the final complexity in the process: Customs Declaration forms. With Burt's help, the often-confusing forms were filled out as they listed the items they worked so hard to collect.
"We want our military to know they are not forgotten and we appreciate and acknowledge the personal sacrifice they and their families are making for our country," Burt said.
It will take the packages nearly a month to reach Sgt. Burt and the Alpha Outlaws, but as far as the work goes for the eighth-grade classes at Beaty, Mission Outlaw has been successfully completed.