FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Douglaston may be more than 300 miles away, nestled in the borough of Queens in New York City, but community members' gratitude toward service members is endless.

Children from the Ambassadors Club at Douglaston School of Literature (Public School 98Q) raised more than $4,000 in 10 days for United Through Reading in honor of a fallen 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier.

Students made the donation in honor of Sgt. Edward Bolen, who was killed Nov. 10, 2010, in Afghanistan while serving with 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. Bolen hailed from Chittenango, a community outside of Syracuse.

Cathy Jackman, director of United Through Reading's Military Program, received a phone call from a teacher at PS98Q last November, who was interested in organizing a school fundraiser in Bolen's honor.

"United Through Reading is the nation's first nonprofit to promote the read-aloud experience for separated military Families," Jackman said. "We offer deployed parents the opportunity to video record (themselves) reading storybooks to their children, which creates positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading."

The Ambassadors Club organized a schoolwide Read-a-Thon. The club's four student members and three staff members found community sponsors to pledge money for each page the children read.

Sponsors also had the option to donate more money after the participant reached his or her goal, said Mary Lynn Campirides, Ambassadors Club faculty adviser.

The cause was near and dear to Campirides' heart, as Bolen's aunt also worked at the school.
"(United Through Reading) is one way to really bring Families together," she explained. "The kids could really relate to what it must be like to not have a parent around.

"We are quite proud of our students and staff in this worthwhile endeavor," Campirides continued.

The Read-a-Thon also reinforced the school's heavy focus on reading and literacy, she added.
Campirides said that United Through Reading will use the donation to purchase books and to help with operational costs to create and deliver the DVDs to Families.

"PS98Q had an amazingly successful fundraiser on behalf of Sgt. Bolen," Jackman said. "We (at United Through Reading) were overwhelmed with their generosity, knowing it was to honor one of our fallen heroes.

"I was humbled by this school in Douglaston remembering and honoring Sgt. Bolen," she continued. "It was very meaningful to me because my spouse, (retired) Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman, had served with the 10th Mountain Division."

Page last updated Wed March 14th, 2012 at 00:00