There are over 400,000 organizations with one common goal; to help support soldiers and give recognition to everyone that gives their time to aid the troops. Decatur students and staff came together this November to donate goods to the troops. This was led by the American Legion, an association of former U.S. servicemen and clubs like Connections and Future Educators of America helped collect donations.
Seven years ago, Laurie Chetelat, the Connections Club advisor, became the coordinator for this project. This is one of her favorite organizations as she states, “it gives students the opportunity to be involved with the community and make a difference in the world just by going to the grocery store and picking up a few extra things.” Students collect supplies from businesses, stores, and even their pantries. This event is easy to participate in and it makes a huge difference for the lives of the troops.
Joshua August, a retired war veteran and a Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps teacher at Decatur, gives insight into how the donations make a difference. While serving for 14 years, August was stationed in Japan and traveled around the world from places in Iraq all the way to Norway. August says it was like a brotherhood between his comrades and he still talks to some of them today. He received donations while serving and “would get things like care packages, candy and pens and it was great because it was free and made us feel good.” August thinks it is a great program at Decatur and it helps students become more involved and educated.
Although Chetelat coordinates everything for this organization at Decatur, clubs and teachers around the school collect donations and help her put this altogether. Some teachers offer extra credit to students who bring in supplies to help increase the amount of donations made. These factors helped make this a record-breaking year for donations made.
Chetelat helps with the troop donations by bringing in products geared towards females stating, “usually when people think about troops, they forget that women are also serving, so these small things help show they are not left unnoticed.” She helps make a point that all different types of people serve, and the small things really make a difference.
According to Pew Research Center, an organization that informs the public about the issues and trends shaping the world, 1.3 million citizens were serving the country in 2016. Sometimes the troops can be overseas for 24 months. The donations help the troops feel closer to their families and is a selfless act that can make a huge difference.