Kids send sweet messages to troops - Catholic Courier

Kids send sweet messages to troops

WEBSTER — Although most of Dalton Pumputis’ schoolmates gathered up their least favorite Halloween candy to send to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dalton’s parents urged him to bring in his favorites, such as M&Ms and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
 

He agreed, but noted later it had been a sacrifice.
 

“I picked the stuff I liked a lot, so I knew the soldiers would like it, too,” said Dalton, 8, who said he had dressed up like a prisoner on Halloween.
Dalton was taking part in a candy donation called Operation Share Joy! at St. Rita School, where students from kindergarten to sixth grade brought in part of their Halloween candy to send to soldiers serving overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq.
 

Teachers and parents helped the students package the candy into plastic bags and then into boxes to send to troops. Other students spent time creating Halloween cards by drawing such spooky things on them as spiders and webs and writing messages to the soldiers.
 

The idea for the candy donation evolved because several soldiers have ties to the school and have visited, brought in equipment and showed students such things as meals ready to eat, said parent Meg Burkhard, who helped organize the candy donation.
 

“My uncle’s in Afghanistan, and we send him care packages, so we wanted the whole school to do it,” said her son, Matt, 8, who said he dressed up as Peyton Manning for Halloween.
 

Meg Burkhard said there’s no worry that the candy might melt in transit.
“Most of the soldiers are on an air-conditioned base,” she said, noting she has been sending her brother-in-law chocolate for months.
 

The donation had several benefits, including connecting kids to soldiers, teaching them how to share something precious and helping lift the spirits of soldiers overseas, she said.
 

That’s why the donation was embraced by students and their
parents, a teacher said.
 

“Some kids brought in individual baggies, and some of them brought in most of (their candy),” said Maggie Frank, a fourth-grade teacher at the school. “Some of the parents were happy to see it go.”
 

Many of the kids participating said they took great care in choosing which candy to donate.

“I brought in Snickers and whatever I couldn’t have because of my teeth,” said Mandy Skrypka, 9, who said her favorite kind of candy is gum.
 

Julian Trinchini, 9, who dressed up as a hippie, chose his donations from older stock.
 

“I just brought in last year’s candy and stuff I got for Easter,” Julian said.
Cassie Sutley said she cleaned out her candy stash.
 

“I had way too much candy, so my mom just said to take everything you don’t like,” said Sutley, 9.
 
Third-grade teacher Eileen Perryman said care packages from the students do make a difference with soldiers. She explained she recently mailed out ghost-shaped letters her third-graders had written to her son, Jacob, and his fellow soldiers; Jacob is stationed in Washington state and was to be deployed overseas in November.
 

She said her son called when he received the package, and he and the other soldiers opened the package while she was on the phone with him.
“I was able to hear them enjoy what the students wrote,” Perryman said.
She said one soldier’s comment stuck with her.
 

“In the background I heard one of the guys say, ‘This is what it’s all about,’” she said.

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