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Operation Christmas Gift

By Staff
Crestline students making care packages for military
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle area military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will receive a special Christmas gift from folks back home thanks to the generosity of students, teachers and support personnel at Crestline Elementary School.
More than 70 shoeboxes stuffed with non-perishable food items, candy and toiletries were shipped from the Hartselle Post Office on Friday, Nov. 12. Cash donations totaling $968 were used to pay for the postage. They are scheduled to reach the hands of recipients before Christmas.
The idea to do something to help America's fighting men and women at Christmastime came from Ellen Hodgen's fifth graders. "I mentioned the idea at a faculty meeting on Nov. 1," Hodgen said, "and it caught on and swept through the school like wildfire."
"We made a list of wanted items and assigned each classroom with a specific item," she pointed out. "The response was amazing. Within a week we had everything we needed to fill 72 shoeboxes."
Class members sorted, inventoried and packaged the gift items last Wednesday and Thursday.
Items donated included Gideon Bibles, zip-lock storage bags, magazines, hand lotion, eye care products, dried fruit, flashlights, socks, foot powder and hard candy. One class brought in 839 pieces of chewing gum.
Most of the recipients are either natives of Hartselle or have close relatives who live here. Their photographs and names are posted on the wall in Hodgen's classroom and are remembered each school day during the observance of silent time.
"I'm really proud of my students," Hodgen said. "They voted to do this instead of exchanging gifts."
Three students expressed their own feelings about what it means to support and help American's armed forces in combat.
"It makes me feel really good to give something back to them because they are giving so much to us," Ciera Gilbert said.
Megan McGee said she is concerned that American soldiers in Iraq may be short on food and personal items." These gifts will mean a lot to them because they're from folks back home."
"I feel this is one way we can help them. "They could be running short on supplies and need what we're sending," Austin Kent said."