Understanding the soldiers' sacrifices
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Sue Mendes, a third grade teacher at Slatington Elementary School coordinated the Veteran's Day assembly that so inspired sixth grader, Chelsey Snyder to cash in savings bonds to buy things to send to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to brighten their Christmas.
When educators present lessons and programs to their students, it is their goal that everyone benefits from it. They hope at least one student "gets it."
Chelsey Snyder, 11, a sixth grader at Slatington Elementary School, "got it" and wanted to "share it."
On Friday, Nov. 13, Chelsey was present at the Slatington Elementary Veteran's Day assembly. Thanks to the efforts of the coordinator of the event, third grade teacher Sue Mendes, there was patriotic music and a video showing soldiers in Iraq. Christina Bryner played military songs on the bag pipe.
Veterans from the Northampton VFW visited, which included a WAVE, and they spoke to the assembly about their service. Those veterans were: Jim McRell, Tom Kratzer, PFC Nicholas Glass, Ray Heil, Gloria Mitchell, Charles Rosina, Larry Miller, Darryl Laab.
Ms. Mendes created a Wall of Memory and Honor just inside the front doors with the names of veterans and troops now serving.
"We also sent a letter home to the children from Operation: Touch of Home. It's a local organization that sends care packages to our local men and women stationed over in Iraq and Afghanistan. The letter asked for donations of items the soldiers could use," says Ms. Mendes.
Dr. Linda Marcin, Slatington Elementary's principal says that Ms. Mendes did a fabulous job organizing the assembly.
"What she did was heartfelt and motivated. We're so proud of her efforts. It had a tremendous effect on the staff and students," says Dr. Marcin.
Chelsey was one of those students very affected by the program.
"At the assembly, I thought of all the people who died. It's amazing we're still here today," she says.
She went home that afternoon and told her mom she wanted to buy things for the troops.
"We're going through a lot right now but they have it worse than us," she says.
She has been saving her money to buy a lap top and had saved $11 in her piggy bank. She asked her mom if she could cash in her savings bonds.
"I told my mom that if it wasn't for the veterans and the soldiers, I wouldn't have the freedom I have now and they needed these things more than I needed a lap top," says a very mature Chelsey.
Her mother, Lisa Kelly, was very supportative of her daughter's decision and allowed Chelsey to cash in two savings bonds, giving her a total of $211 to spend on items for the troops.
Together they went shopping.
"We had a great time," says Chelsey.
They bought 60 red Christmas hats trimmed in white that Chelsey hopes the soldiers will wear at their Christmas dinners. She included fake snow, filled Christmas stockings, brain teaser books, and Christmas cards for them to sign and send home to their families and friends.
She bought two Christmas trees with lights. She didn't buy glass or plastic ornaments because she was afraid they would get broken in shipping. So instead, she bought ornaments they could paint and decorate the way they wanted for their trees.
The rest of the money she spent on items on the Operation: Touch of Home list like toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, etc.
On Monday, Nov. 16, Chelsey brought her Christmas presents for the troops in to Ms. Mendes.
"I was overwhelmed. I started to cry at the generoisty of Chelsey's spirit. I've been coordinating this assembly for the last 10 years. I try to make it different each year. The veterans really enjoy it and they always emphasize to the students how really important it is for them to get an education. But this is the first time a student has taken what she heard and did something as amazing as this. I've told so many people about what Chelsey has done and I still get tears when I do," says Ms. Mendes.
Dr. Marcin, walking by, sees Chelsey. She stops and asks, "May I give you a hug?"
She looks at Chelsey and says emphatically, "Fabulous! You're just fabulous!"
"The kindness and caring from this young student, her reaching out to others, has to be told. Hopefully this will motivate others to do the same for our troops," says Dr. Marcin.
Chelsey says she has two great-uncles that served in the military. One was shot and killed in Vietnam.
"I have his uniform and pins. I'm proud of their service," says this young patriotic girl.
Chelsey Snyder, 11 years old, wise beyond her years adds, "And I'm proud that I'm able to send to our troops something that I take for granted and they don't have. I don't like when I hear somebody say they don't have a good life when there's soldiers in Iraq who have it much worse."