Granby " Middle Park eighth-graders send care packages to troops |

Granby " Middle Park eighth-graders send care packages to troops

Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

An East Grand Middle School eighth grade project to support U.S. troops now has the whole community involved.

The students and community have been making donations to send overseas. Eighth-grader Johnny Stensvad also wrote a couple letters to include in the packages.

“It was kind of hard at first,” he said, “but after a while it got easier. I didn’t think that I would get any back ” I actually did.”

Having family members in the military helped.

“I have a couple cousins in the Iraq War right now,” Stensvad said. “I was really anxious in learning more about it, and I like wanted to really support the Army and military and stuff. I thought it would be courteous and kind, and a fun experience to just bring in a lot of items to give.”

His classmate Hanna Ziegler also enjoyed being part of it.

“It was fun because you got to finally realize that you could do something,” she said. “I think it’s great that we’re pulling together as a community to do something for the soldiers.”

Some of the items sent included: nonperishable foods, word puzzles, journals, gum and personal hygiene items, she said.

Eighth grade teacher Anne-Marie Salem has 115 students who participated in the effort, which began when the eighth grade English class wanted to bring attention to Sept. 11 as a day of remembrance. In 2002, President Bush made it a national holiday called Patriot Day.

The class assignment was for each student to bring in one item to put in a care package to send to soldiers on Patriot Day, to show their patriotism, Salem said.

“The next day, literally boxes came in of supplies and things to put in the care package,” Salem said. “I was completely overwhelmed by their generosity.”

However, they didn’t have money to pay for shipment. They then opened the project up to the East Grand School District and put a fundraising plea out to district staff members and to parents and it was “again a snowfall effect,” Salem said.

“I received 25 e-mails within the first hour that I put out that message,” she said. “We secured those funds and were able to send the shipment.”

They then invited the district and community to join the effort.

“We would like to collectively get a list of soldiers, and or relatives, of people in the community who are overseas so that we can individualize a little bit more,” Salem said. “So that we can build awareness in our community of who these people are.”

The first shipment was sent on Nov. 18 to a unit that was on their first tour and recently deployed. It was received Nov. 29.

“We talked about the number one thing that soldiers want is a handwritten letter saying, ‘thank you,’ ” Salem said. “We’re hoping to build relationships with the soldiers we’ve already sent to as well as streamline, fine tune the process even more for our next shipment, which we anticipate to be bigger because of the increased community support and funding.”

They will send another shipment in February and May.

Salem is “extremely” proud of the students.

“It was something they were very passionate about from the beginning,” she said. “The hearts of these students are very strong … To teach service learning projects like this is one of the best educational pieces we can offer our students.

“I believe that we’ve started something really great.”

To make donations contact Salem through the school at (970) 887-3382.

” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or

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