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Support for the troops

Aaliyah Hendry places an item one 15 care packages going soldiers who are serving overseas while fellow classmates Amy Adzia's

Aaliyah Hendry places an item in one of 15 care packages going to soldiers who are serving overseas while fellow classmates in Amy Adzia's kindergarten class at George Earle Early Learning Center Kyleigh Fugate (from left), Allison Viteck and Samara Stover wait their turn. | Karen Caffarini/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 1, 2013 7:22AM



One by one, kindergarten students at George Earle Early Learning Center on Oct. 23 dropped various items into 15 boxes, each one headed to a soldier serving overseas.

Newspapers, magazines, toiletries, snacks and other items the soldiers need or want were donated by the students, who also made cards and tucked them inside.

The donations were made as part of the Kids Care for the Community project, a cooperative effort between Carpenters Union Locals 1005 in Hobart and 599 in Hammond, the Post-Tribune, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky’s office and four schools, including George Earle.

The project, which is open to all elementary schools in Lake and Porter counties, calls for every student and/or classroom in the schools to participate in a different service project for each of four sessions throughout the school year.

In this first session, enough items were donated to send 15 care packages, according to teacher Rhonda Crouch.

Principal Sara Gutierrez said they are all going to family members or friends of George Earle students. Several students said their fathers are in the Army and have served overseas.

“All classes were in on the project. All students donated something,” Gutierrez said.

She said the school worked with the American Legion Post 54 in Hobart to know what items to collect.

Linda Kolarik, president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 54, went from room to room to speak to the students and watch them put the donations into the boxes.

“When you go away from home, you feel funny. When soldiers go away from home, it doesn’t matter that they are adults. They get homesick,” Kolarik told the students.

“When you’re sending them these packages, you’re sending them love,” Kolarik said.

Other projects in the Kids Care for the Community program include environmental service, community service, writing thank-you letters to non-family members and collecting and donating canned food items to a food pantry.

Participating schools that complete their projects will be placed in a drawing, with two schools from each county receiving monetary awards.



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