Cadets in the Ottumwa High School JROTC program sent 40 boxes filled with supplies to members of the Iowa National Guard unit stationed in Afghanistan.
But the process of getting this accomplished involved a lot of organization, fundraising, and learning for all students.
According to Chief John Wynn, the students are required to do two service-learning projects each year. This means every student has to be involved with the project at some level. Cadets Erlinda Aldaba and Skyler Houghtaling helped organize and coordinate with Chief Winn. Then the work is divided into smaller tasks. Fundraising, for example, started with a breakfast on Saturday, December 9 at the Free Methodist Church. Students served eggs, pancakes, sausages, juice, and coffee. They had 137 people attend.
They then set up a donation table in the school cafeteria during lunch. Students and staff donated money, personal care items, snacks, etc. for the boxes. The boxes were packed and shipped on December 15. After the project is complete, every student writes a brief reflection about the project and its impact.
For Houghtaling, a 2nd Lietenent and special projects coordinator, he is already serving in the Iowa National Guard, effective last month. He plans to become a nurse and take advantage of the Guard's tuition reimbursement program. His role is to serve as planner for projects such as this.
Aldaba is a battalion commander. "I come from a large family," she said. "But it is very different learning to organize" at this level. She knows the skills she is learning will help her later. She hopes to continue helping others as an adult. "I like helping people."