JAMESTOWN — A group of Greeneview Middle School students were hoping to surprise some troops with Christmas-time thank you cards.
But after sending 400 notes to more than 200 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, it was the group of mostly seventh and eighth graders who received the unexpected. In response to their act of kindness, myriad troops took the time to return the gesture with photos and shorts notes of their own, completely catching most of the local kids off guard.
Sending cards is an annual activity for students of Dale Vinson. Getting a return is not.
“Mr. Vinson said it’s rare if we ever do,” said Abi Baker. “It’s crazy. It’s really cool that they would do that with everything they have going on. I think it’s amazing that they take time out of the day.”
Some of the students were wide-eyed when they were handed the package of mail.
“I was stunned to see the response,” Hunter Brooks said. “Writing and making all the cards, I was (thinking) they’ll look at them, but they’ll probably not respond. It’s kind of shocking. Receiving the cards gives them hope. All their family members are waiting for them at home.”
The responses were accompanied by a cover letter from 2013 Greeneview grade Tory Lewis, whose younger sister, Madison Firman, suggested that they send the letters to Lewis’ US Army camp.
Lewis wrote, “Let me say how wonderful it was to open them and know that we have the support of the whole class and that people are thinking of us over here. It truly is a blessing. All the cards were extremely thoughtful and creative and it put a smile on every single soldier’s face that I gave them to. So from all of us here in Kuwait, I wanted to say thank you for your letters!”
Lewis also sent a couple postcards and some examples of Kuwait currency.
The project began around Veteran’s Day, when Vinson and fellow-teacher David Smith had students craft the cards and letters. They were sent overseas around Thanksgiving to make sure they arrived in time for Christmas. Students drew patriotic scenes to accompany their words of thanks and encouragement.’
“I had some eagles, some had different branches of the military,” Vinson said. “Something uplifting.”
Students were thrilled with the opportunity to brighten the day of someone thousands of miles away.
“It makes me so happy,” Firman said. “(Lewis) talks about how they never get Christmas gifts. My sister told me they appreciated it. We understand how their family feels. Not seeing her for so long is very tough for me and my family. I always cry when I see her picture or anything.”
For Hope Beverly, the opportunity to spread some holiday cheer was important.
“They won’t be able to see their family for a long time,” she said. “It’s nice to do something nice for people who have family a long way away.”
Writing the cards and notes had extra special meaning for Baker, whose father, Mike Baker, served in the Air Force and was stationed in the Philippines for some time.
“I get stories from him all the time,” she said. “It’s crazy. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.