Students keeping troops in mind

BELLWOOD – Students at Myers Elementary School are doing their part to make sure area service members have a nice Christmas.

Through the Stockings for Troops program, students in kindergarten through fourth grade Thursday stuffed some 620 Christmas stockings to be sent to service members – all which of whom are related to Myers students – in Alaska, Afghanistan and on ships in the Middle East.

The event, in its third year, is sponsored by the Myers Elementary PTO and Military Family Ministries, co-founded by Tracie Ciambotti of Bellwood.

The students went from station to station stuffing the stockings with items such as ramen noodles, cookies, beef jerky, candy canes, trail mix, a toothbrush, toothpaste and chap stick, said Sherry DelGrosso, event chairwoman.

Each student made a personal card to stick in each stocking.

All of the items were donated by the students, their families and community members. Jamie Gummo from Surplus City donated the stockings.

Ciambotti said her organization does various projects throughout the year for the troops.

“We do things so the troops know we appreciate them. It is difficult for the troops and their families when they are away. It helps the morale of the troops and their families when they know someone is doing something for them,” said Ciambotti, whose son, Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Nearhoof, is deployed in Kuwait.

The project is an important teaching tool for the students, said Myers Principal Teri Harpster, Ciambotti’s sister.

“We have always been interested in doing service projects. For the kids, they are stuffing the stockings, and this helps them understand what this is all about,” Harpster said. “It is hands-on and very personalized. It is a real powerful project. It makes it more meaningful for the kids.”

Myers second-graders said the project teaches them how to share.

“We are learning about being nice to people. They are overseas and don’t get to see their family over Christmas. This will cheer them up,” Dalton Poorman said.

“I think this is nice because the troops do things for us, and we should do something for them because they are protecting us,” Jacob Mercer said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.