The students of St. JosephCatholic School in Ogden are sending love to deployed military members and Iraqi schoolchildren by shipping care packages which will be delivered to them around Valentine's Day.
Preparation of the care packages was done to honor the theme of this year's celebration of Catholic Schools Week, "Catholic Schools -- Dividends for Life." Catholic Schools Week is celebrated nationally each year to focus attention on philanthropic efforts made by the nation's Catholic schools. The week was observed this year Jan. 31-Feb. 6.
"During the week we raised awareness of the needs of the world around us by participating in various charitable efforts, such as the Heifer International Drive," said Heidi Chudy, the school's activities coordinator. "The last day of the week was specified as the day to give thanks for those who defend our nation."
Chudy said raising awareness for the world that surrounds the students supports the week's theme, Dividends for Life, "because what they learn now about their world will last throughout their lifetime."
The care packages assembled for the deployed military troops included Valentines cards handmade by the students, along with ancillary items such as snacks and hygienic supplies. The care packages assembled for the Iraqi schoolchildren included crayons, pencils and notebooks.
More than a dozen boxes filled with these items were delivered by several students to Staff Sgt. Kevin Dilley and Senior Airman Derrick Schwieters, both chaplains' assistants with the 75th Air Base Wing, during a mass held at the school Feb. 5. The packages were shipped later that day to Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel Waterman, who is currently deployed to a joint base in Iraq from Hill Air Force Base. Waterman is participating in a program there that collects and distributes school supplies for Iraqi schoolchildren, called Operation International Children. According to its Web site, operationiraqichildren.org, since the nonprofit organization's inception in 2004 it has delivered approximately 289,595 school supply kits to school children in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to foster positive relations between the U.S. and the two war-afflicted countries.
Equally important for raising morale among those in the fight, Dilley and Schwieters said the care packages for the military troops will be very well received.
"Having been on the receiving side when I got a care package when I was deployed," said Dilley, "I know that it really does make a big difference."
"It not only brightens your day but it also makes it feel like what you are doing is worth it," added Schwieters. "It is nice to know that America is still supporting you."