What started as a letter-writing lesson three weeks ago quickly turned into a care-package drive for Tracy soldiers in Iraq, once second-graders at Lammersville School learned about the war.
Teacher Mia Martinez briefly told the students about the troops and encouraged them to write letters of appreciation.
“We want them to know that they’re not forgotten,” Martinez said, “and for the students to feel they can make a difference in the world.”
The lesson inspired the class of 19 second-graders to collect items for care packages to send with their letters. They began to bring in bags of toiletries, snacks, movies and CDs to fill the care packages and dubbed their efforts Operation Care.
“We just wanted to say thank you for fighting for our freedom,” 8-year-old Faith MacKinnon said.
Then the second-graders invited every class at the rural school to join in Operation Care and told students that the class that collected the most items would win an ice cream party. Martinez sent a wish list home with each student.
“I hope it means a lot to them,” said 8-year-old Tyler Souza, who donated bags of movies and socks. “You’re the best for fighting for us.”
The students’ enthusiasm prompted Martinez to invite to the classroom last week two Tracy soldiers who had returned from Iraq.
“We learned that a lot of them die and don’t come home,” Tyler said.
The soldiers also told the class that temperatures in Iraq can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit, he added. “That’s really hot.”
Lammersville teachers and parents boxed 2,014 items Friday and passed them on to Marilyn Chorley of Military Moms of Tracy. Postal workers stop by her home weekly to ship about 50 boxes to Tracy troops.
“These care packages become as important as their weapons,” Chorley said. “It means so much to them.”
Martinez’s class brought in about 700 items to win the Operation Care competition but will invite the entire student body to share their ice cream social winnings.