The Saw Mill Road School community assembled a Valentine’s Day care package for military personnel stationed overseas, continuing students’ holiday charity efforts.
With the help of a local parent, children at Saw Mill Road Elementary School in North Bellmore collected and sent about 250 pounds –– or nine boxes –– of candy to troops stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan, to kick off the holiday season. The initiative’s organizers said the students enjoyed supporting the military so much that they decided to collect much-needed toiletries this winter.
Jerry Harrington, whose youngest daughter, Alexandra, and son, Ryan, go to the school, said he helped organize similar collections when his oldest daughter, Ashley, attended the former Jacob Gunther Elementary School. He said all of his children –– including Samantha, an 11-year-old with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair –– have done this type of charity work before. For the first time, Harrington said he worked with Principal Jeffrey Rosof and Assistant Principal Denise Fisher to organize a collection after the holiday season.
“The troops appreciated the thoughtfulness and kindness of the children who donated their Halloween candy,” he said. “The children did such a wonderful job, so we thought we could do it again.”
This time, Harrington said, the students collected items military personnel have told him that they desperately require: toiletries. Saw Mill students collected five boxes of bath gel, shampoo, toothpaste and other necessities, amounting to 300 items in all.
Once again, Harrington had the children’s donations sent overseas through his job with Atlas Air, a cargo and passenger airline that is contracted by the military to carry supplies to air-mobility command stations around the world. He said the items arrived at Bagram Airfield on Feb. 14.
Harrington noted that the principals helped drive home an important message to the students while they were working on this initiative –– military personnel stationed abroad do not have the same luxuries that they do in North Bellmore, such as daily showers and clean bathrooms.
“The children now realize that it’s not easy being a soldier and that these men and women give a lot up to defend our country,” he said.
Rosof and Fisher said they were proud to be a part of the donation drive, which they described to be a true community effort. Harrington added that he would gladly help organize another drive in the spring for reading materials, earplugs and music downloads for the soldiers.