CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Fegley Elementary School in Portage, Ind., came together to show its support for the Marines and sailors deployed with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The service members with Weapons Company received letters and care packages from the faculty and students of Fegley Elementary who wanted to show their appreciation for the sacrifices the troops are making.
“The support we get from the children from the school is great,” said Sgt. Daniel Blackwell, a Bolingbrook, Ill., native and infantryman with 1st Platoon, Weapons Co.
Brandi Amones, a teacher at Fegley Elementary and Capt. Ed Nevgloski’s, Weapons Company commander, sister-in-law took the first steps to get the project started after learning about her brother-in-law’s deployment here.
“We thought it was important to somehow make this war seem more personal to kids. I think that this war is so far away that kids often have no idea of what the military is doing over there…for them,” explained Amones.
The students began sending letters to the Marines and sailors while they worked to put together care packages consisting of magazines, DVDs, snacks and banners.
“I want to be a teacher when I am done in the Marines, so it is really nice getting the letters from the younger children,” Cpl. Daniel A. Nichols, an infantryman with 1st Platoon and a Lucedale, Miss. native. “It all means a lot to me.”
The Marines had been receiving these letters for a few weeks when Nevgloski received the first shipment of care packages. He gave each of his platoons a box to open and share.
“When I went to give the packages to the Marines they said the boxes were from the same school they had been getting letters from for about two weeks,” he said.
To show their appreciation for the support the students gave them, the Marines prominently displayed the banners the kids made so everyone could see them. The students designed the banners with their signatures enveloping well-designed pieces of art.
The Marines’ rigorous schedule doesn’t offer much down time, so the letters and packages for the students of Fegley Elementary School they are receiving make a large impact on their morale.
“Getting all the packages is one thing that helps us keep our heads up,” explained Nichols.
According to Nevgloski, the students’ efforts in providing the service members with items they would enjoy was quite apparent as well.
“There were so many things like the magazines that were gone as soon as they opened up the boxes,” Nevgloski explained. “The children must have been trying extra hard to think about what the Marines here would like.”