By Spc. Angel Turner, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAOOctober 15, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas-- Students of Thomas Arnold Elementary School presented their adopted unit, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, nearly 300 "freedom bags" during an assembly Oct. 4 at the school.
"It's just a small token of our appreciation for everything that the Soldiers do for us, for fighting for our freedom," said Lisa Nix, principal of the elementary school in Salado, Texas.
The Long Knife Brigade has been the school's adopted unit since their redeployment from Iraq last year. As a part of the Adopt-A-School Program, Soldiers volunteer their services when needed and when available.
"Soldiers participated in our LEAF program, Learning English Amongst Friends, where bilingual Soldiers came in and worked with parents," Nix said.
"We do have a watch dog program and we have asked Soldiers to be a part of that. It's where we have a male role model come in once a day and our Soldiers may come once a month to participate in that," said Nix.
"Last year we (also) had some Soldiers who came and worked in our Prairie Garden area," added Nix who resides in Salado.
The freedom bags are a kind gesture the Salado school has been doing for years to support the Troops.
"When the first troops went over after 9/11 we started making them then and we have been making them every year since then for our (adopted) unit," said Donna Driggers, a counselor at the elementary school.
"Every child in the classroom gets a white bag and decorates it with patriotic symbols and then every child brings in 12 individually wrapped snacks and we stuff them.
Driggers said the school celebrates freedom week as part of their curriculum. During that week students learn about the symbols of United States and what freedom means.
"When we started making the bags we decided to call them 'freedom bags' to go along with that week," stated Driggers who has been a counselor for 38 years.
Each month, the school has a character trait students learn about. This month's character trait is peace. Students also gave a presentation of peace during the schools assembly.
"I think today went really well," said 1st Lt. Kristin Beehler, the brigade rear detachment personnel officer for 4th BCT.
"The kids were excited to see us. Their focus today was peace for their school assembly and I feel like they made the 'goodie bags' kind of hoping to bring some of our Soldiers peace, especially since they're about to deploy," said Beehler.
As Soldiers gathered their freedom bags, students ecstatically waved goodbye and thanked the Soldiers for coming to their school.
"It was fun to interact with the kids and to see them so happy and excited," added Beehler.
A small gesture of spending time with those students not only made an impression on the school and students but on the Soldiers as well.
"I think it's great that they have this program," stated Beehler, a Mansfield, Texas native. "We give to them, with having our mentorship down there, and they also give back to us and I think that's pretty special."
Nix said she and her staff will be thinking of ways to continue supporting their adopted unit while they are deployed.