James Wood group collects for troops
Posted: October 13, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — James Wood High School business teacher Mike Onda remembers his days in the Persian Gulf and the importance of receiving personal items from home.
“Even something as simple as a toothbrush or a snack you can put in your pack, a family picture from home, it means a lot,” he said. “When you’re out there, you kind of wonder if people still remember you’re there and if they care.”
As a former Marine, Onda was deployed four times, once while he was a business teacher at James Wood.
On Friday, he and three other advisers and members of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) held the school’s first R.E.D. Out — a nationwide event and FBLA community service project in which students and staff wore red to “Remember Everyone Deployed.”
As part of the event, personal items, such as deodorant and wet wipes, and food items such as oatmeal were collected in 70 boxes throughout the school to be shipped to deployed troops in various locations this month.
FBLA adviser Cindy Forse has a son who has been deployed to Iraq three times, so the cause is dear to her heart.
“We take it all for granted,” she said. “They sleep in holes, go to the bathroom in holes, They have to dig in the sand. He got homesick. They all did.
“They’re fighting for our freedom,” she added. “They fight for our country, and they need to know they’re thought about and we care and our thoughts and prayers are with them and we want them to come home safe.”
The FBLA raised about $500 for the cause. Goods and cash are still being collected, and anyone can donate.
The project is conducted through Operation Gratitude, which annually sends 100,000 care packages to U.S. service members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to wounded troops, veterans and first responders.
The organization is asking for such items as yarn, gift cards, snacks, socks, personal electronics, personal-care products and Halloween or Easter candy.
Nearly all of the students at James Wood wrote a letter to an unknown service member as part of the project.
A student named Fred wrote: “I also want you to know that everyone in the U.S. is praying for you to return safely. And as for sports, you’re not missing much because the replacement referees are cheating the teams by making bad calls.”
The latter comment referred the recent labor dispute between the NFL and its referees and the controversial calls made by their temporary replacements.
Junior Holli Nolan, an FBLA member, said she hoped the event would make young people more aware of the number of deployed troops.
“We’re really not educated about how many people are deployed and that they’re still in other countries,” she said.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org