By Anthony J. Machcinski
Grammar school students in Lincoln and Hamilton Schools in Harrison are proving that even a little bit of effort can make a difference.
Students from the two schools raised money through a penny collection to benefit troops in Afghanistan. The collection raised $2,055.10 to buy care packages for the soldiers overseas.
“It was a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding,” explained first-grade teacher Tonilyn Pinho, who helped organize the fundraiser along with kindergarten instructor Kim Dolaghan. “We were able to help people that are helping us.”
The packages will be sent to the 411th Engineer Brigade in Afghanistan, where Harrison High School graduate Cpl. Matthew Bishop is currently stationed. Bishop’s mother, Sandy, works in the Harrison school district’s early childhood program.
“I was very touched (when I found out about the fundraiser),” Sandy Bishop said. “It was amazing as far as the generosity and caring of the students and their families.”
The care packages contain everything from essentials such as shampoo and soap, to disposable cameras, to simple items like sugar mixes, gum, and candy. Along with the 20- plus care packages, students wrote letters to the troops that will be distributed throughout the summer.
Cpl. Bishop has been a part of the military since he left for boot camp in Missouri in 2008. Just last April, Bishop was sent to Texas for training before being transported to Afghanistan.
Sandy Bishop remembered the day her son enlisted. “It was a proud moment. It was a dream for him. He felt obligated to give back after the September 11 attacks,” she said.
While the fundraiser was considered a “wow moment” by Bishop, she says it was just another example of the generosity of the Harrison community that empathizes with the sacrifices being made by members of the military.
“Harrison is really a familyoriented community with the outpouring of immense camaraderie,” Bishop said. “Tonilyn did this last minute at the end of the school year and that is just breathtaking. I was brought to tears when I found out the students wrote letters.”
Pinho echoed that sentiment.
“We were able to teach the kids what the real meaning (behind the fundraiser) was about,” she explained. “Simply, to have everybody come together as a community and help those in need.”
Harrison Schools Superintendent Dr. James Doran praised the organizers for providing a way to teach while giving back to the students.
“These are very talented teachers with talented children,” Doran said. “Not only is it getting the kids to think and talk about civic affairs, but it’ s teaching them about giving back and being good citizens. Those are good lessons.”
Although the care packages have yet to reach their intended destination, the unit has already learned of their impending arrival through the magic of social media.
“I posted a picture (of the packages) on Facebook and they all were very thankful and excited,” Bishop said.