About 1,000 pounds of paper, 3,000 pencils, 2,000 pens, 2,600 pieces of chalk and an abundant supply of other school supplies were sent out Feb. 26 to Camp Penich, Afghanistan.

Once the supplies arrive they will then be hand delivered by the soldiers of the C Company 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment to 13 different schools in Konar River Valley, Afghanistan.

About 25 children from Aurora Elementary School\'s Student Council and Service Learning Club held a school supply drive during the past several weeks in effort to raise as many materials as possible for the school children in the Afghanistan.

The collection of the supplies was inspired by a letter from 1st Lt. Zachary Miller, platoon leader of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, deployed to Afghanistan.

He wrote to his mother Lee Miller, an Aurora elementary fourth- and fifth-grade teacher and a student council advisor.

Growing up as a school teacher's son, Miller said Zachary knew what a typical classroom looked like and what tools were needed for proficient learning.

After seeing the learning environment in the Konar River Valley, Zachary wrote a letter to his mother asking for her to assist the children in the valley.

In his letter, Zachary described such conditions as open-air classrooms and problem solving in the dirt instead of on chalkboards. Afghan children go to school in these conditions six times a week for four hours a day, he wrote.

The children at Aurora thought it would be a good idea to pitch in and provide whatever help they could.

Miller said that it has been a tremendous learning experience for the children. Maps of Afghanistan and the world line the school's hallways, giving the children an idea of where their supplies are heading.

"It's learning without even knowing they're learning," said Miller.

She said the children have been excited about promoting their cause.

"I think this was a success because the kids were engaged in trying to help somebody," said Jennifer Simpson, a fourth grade teacher and co-sponsor of the Service Learning Club. "They're learning a lifelong ethic of giving that's a success right there. It's the beginning of a [positive] attitude we hope to instill in them."

The children were excited to donate their time to box up the supplies.

"I like knowing we're helping people less fortunate than we are with school supplies," said Ben Schutt a sixth grader and member of the student council.

Nicholas Kolasch, a 3rd grader and member of the student council, said he liked helping the children in Afghanistan because they don't have enough school supplies.

Along with the supplies the children sent letters of friendship and drawings of their favorite things in an effort to put a smile on the faces of the children in the Konar River Valley.

Miller and Simpson said that the message they wanted to get across to their students is that these are children just like they are and that a little help can go a long way.