One Ironton Elementary School fourth-grade student received a special visit recently from a soldier stationed at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany.
Army Pfc. Robert Solt, 20, a graduate of Panther Valley High School, surprised his sister, Cheyanne, in her classroom.
Solt, who serves with the 1st and 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 4th Squadron, then answered questions from students, their teacher Debbie Schneck and Darlene Uherick, North Whitehall Township clerk.
Solt told the youngsters that it's extremely hot in Afghanistan, where he is serving.
He said that the gift packages of cards, food and baby wipes they have been sending him and his troop are greatly appreciated and that the trail mix they send is very good.
Solt said he drinks a great deal of water with Crystal Light in it.
After he answered questions, the students stood in a line and read the cards they made for him to music.
Uherick told The TIMES NEWS how the township and the children in Schneck's class began sending cards and packages to Solt in Afghanistan.
"We started this Adopt a Soldier program a couple of years ago," Uherick said. "What we do is collect items from residents."
Uherick said the township makes announcements in its newsletter, on its website, and at the supervisors meetings about collecting items for three soldiers, two women from Pennsylvania and Solt, all of whom are deployed to Afghanistan.
"Because of this, Ironton School has helped us," she said. "The children have written letters and cards for all the holidays."
She said the township has also received a few monetary donations to purchase items for the soldiers.
Uherick said they have been sending packages to Solt since last Christmas, when Schneck learned about him from his sister.
"After we collect everything, we package and mail out the items at the end of the month," she said. "North Whitehall pays the postage for shipping the packages."
Uherick said Schnecksville Elementary School students also helped collect items for the three soldiers this past Christmas.
Solt said he will visit his family and girlfriend during his two weeks home.
"Its great to be home but it is too short," Solt said. "I have been in the military for a year and a half.
"I signed up for three years and 16 weeks."
Solt, who serves with the Outlaw Unit, a ground troop, said he joined the Army because he wanted a physical action career.
"I do anything to do with the front lines," Solt said.
While he is home, Solt wants to help Cheyanne with her homework.
"I plan on spending time with her because I know it means a lot to her," he said.
Cheyanne, Solt's dad Scott, and stepmother Stephanie spoke with The TIMES NEWS
"I was very excited to see him," Cheyanne said. "I am very excited to play with him."
"It feels good to have him home," his dad said. "Just spending time with Robert while he is home is good enough for me."
Stephanie said it was a relief to have him home.
"It is wonderful to have him home considering I lost a friend over there," Stephanie said. "I just want to hang out and spend as much time with him as we can."