By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 8, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The kindergarten teachers at Fort Rucker Primary School taught their students the importance of showing thanks and appreciation to deployed Soldiers Dec. 1 with Operation: Celebration, an event to send holiday care packages to Soldiers spending their holidays on deployment.
The packages were sent Friday to Soldiers of the kindergarten Family members that are deployed in Afghanistan, Egypt, Honduras and Iraq.
The event began last year when Katie Condon, kindergarten teacher and organizer of the operation, decided that the school should do something special for the Families of her students that had deployed parents during the holidays.
"Thankfully, we don't have any students with deployed parents this year," said Condon, "but we do have students with other Family members that have been deployed."
Condon organized the event with her class last year, but for this year, decided she wanted more involvement.
"We did [Operation: Celebration] last year but only with my class. This year we got the entire kindergarten involved," said Condon.
The event was being held in pods five and six at the primary school, where mothers of the students and other teachers volunteered to come and help with the event.
Various stations were set up throughout the classrooms where students, with the aid of the mothers and teachers, could create the gifts to be sent overseas.
Some of the items they included in the packages were: candy canes, flowers, handmade ornaments, small Christmas trees, photos, stockings, quilts, cookies, wreaths, bracelets, necklaces, hats, headbands, handmade cards, Rice Krispies treats with messages on them and other goodies just to name a few.
Most of the items that the children prepared to send were handcrafted items they created with the teachers and mothers, mostly ornaments that could be hung on the Christmas trees to be sent over with the packages.
"I think this is so important to do this because [the students'] parents are in the military, serving our country, and they will probably have to go overseas at some point," said Billie Griffith, volunteer and educational aid at Fort Rucker Primary School. "It's important for the children to show appreciation and for them to understand what their parents are doing."
When the students were asked why they thought what they were doing was important, Sebastian Scheurer, kindergarten student at Fort Rucker Primary School, replied, "The Soldiers over in Afghanistan don't have ornaments and gifts, so we have to make them so that they can have them."
The inspiration for the idea came from two books called "Operation: Celebration" and "The Soldiers Tree," in which children send gifts to troops of the parents of classmates that are deployed overseas.
"It's really just about the kids giving back while the Soldiers are [deployed], risking their lives and sacrificing," said Condon. "It's just nice to be able to give back to them a little bit.
"We talked about what it's like to be away from your Family and how hard it is, so we asked the kids if they would like to send [the Soldiers] a little love, and [the students] were all about sending them a little love," Condon added. "That's basically what inspired it and they love it."
Dianne Duncan, volunteer and teacher's aide at Fort Rucker Primary School, was in charge of the station helping students create apple cinnamon ornaments, out of clay, to be hung on the trees to be included in the packages.
"They smell absolutely amazing and I had to make sure to tell the students that these could not be eaten," she said.