Mark Hofer, a Physical Education teacher at Odyssey Charter School, learned about the Adopt-a-Field Artillery Soldier program while visiting with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday. When he returned from break, he asked Odyssey Principal Scot Hooper if the school could adopt two soldiers who were shipping out to Afghanistan in January. Hooper liked the program’s mission and thought it would be a wonderful experience for students.
“Teaching young people extends far past the classroom walls. For our scholars to be able to “walk the talk” they need a well-rounded understanding of their world and what is happening in it,” said Hooper. “Reaching out to people on different continents should be the norm not the exception.”
Hooper and school employees put together a plan to involve all of the students in small groups. Kindergarten and first graders rounded up the soldiers’ requests and made pictures for each of them in January. They also asked parents of students in those grades to help with donations. On January 31, Army Staff Sergeant Dylan C. Potter and Army Specialist Steadson Wallace were sent two large boxes full of snacks, games, toiletries, batteries, books and magazines.
In February, second and third graders and their families collected donations for each of the soldiers. At the end of February, each soldier received three boxes from Odyssey Charter School.
The school plans to continue sending care packages to the soldiers. This month, fourth and fifth graders are gathering items to send overseas. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders will be in charge of the month of April. Odyssey staff members plan to bring donations in May.
“We hope the students get a sense of community and Patriotism from this, said Bridget Wilson, Federal Programs Manager and Transportation for Odyssey. “A feeling of pride knowing they have helped a soldier receive a piece of home while they are far away from home making sacrifices for us, it is the least we can do.”
Even though the donations are anonymous, the soldiers were able to discover who sent the care packages. Students received emails and pictures from both soldiers thanking them for their support.