HONOLULU, Hawaii -- A rainbow of colorful backpacks, notebooks, crayons and other school supplies greeted the children as they filed past a table in the school library, picked their favorites and exchanged high-fives with the Soldiers.
The Soldiers, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 311th Signal Command (Theater), presented the school supplies to the Fern Elementary School faculty and students, visited and took photos with the students and teachers, and interviewed with a Fox broadcast news reporter, Friday.
"One of the greatest benefits of serving as a unit commander, and being a Soldier, is supporting one's community in any way possible," said Capt. Jason Grams, HHC commander.
The Soldiers of HHC, 311th SC (T) and their Families, led by the commander's wife, Stefanie Grams, organized the drive. They compiled lists of supplies the school listed as most needed, and the unit's Soldiers, Department of Army Civilians and their Families pitched in by placing donations in large boxes in the hallways of the unit's office buildings.
"The families of the 311th SC (T) support Fern Elementary on an annual basis. This is the second time that I have been directly involved, and just like last year I love every second of it," Mrs. Grams said, "There's nothing like seeing the smiles on the kids' faces and it makes me happy when I can demonstrate my support."
This is the third consecutive year the 311th team has gathered and donated supplies to the school, traditionally during the first month of the new school year.
"We appreciate your help, and I'm sure the kids appreciate your kindness," said Cedric Chu, Fern's school counselor. "We're looking forward to the upcoming school year, and our friends from Fort Shafter."
The Soldiers of HHC have been partnering with Fern Elementary since 2011 for various events throughout the school year, such as the monthly Read Out Loud book program for Soldiers to read to students, and the school's annual Drug Free Jump Rope for the Heart field day which promotes active healthy lifestyles and introduces students to positive role models and professional opportunities.
"The staff and students of Fern Elementary are some of the most genuine people that I have ever encountered," said Mrs. Grams, "I love spending time here, and I'm happy to be involved and support in any way possible!"
The 311th SC(T), headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, is the designated Signal Command for
the Pacific Theater and provides ongoing support for cooperative military exercises with our partner nations throughout the Pacific and Warfighters around the world.
"Our Soldiers of HHC 311th SC(T) take great pride in supporting Fern Elementary, and we look forward to maintaining our partnership with the school," Grams said. "In addition to our Back-to School supply drive, we also support their annual Jump Rope for Heart Event, our cooperative Read Aloud book reading program, and new this year, their Adopt a Classroom design, so each Soldier who participates in Read Aloud can visit the same classroom each month, and develop more of a friendship with the students and teachers."