Mid-Valley students prepare care packages for soldiers

ST. CHARLES – Students at the Mades-Johnstone Center in St. Charles didn’t hesitate Friday to tell Kathy Tobusch, co-chair of Fox Valley Troop Support, about their personal connections to the nation’s armed forces.

Interrupting a conversation, one boy told her that his dad is expected to deploy to Afghanistan this summer. Tobusch – who was at the Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative school to talk to students about care packages for soldiers – promised to send a package to the boy’s father.

Tobusch, whose two sons have deployed to Iraq, said it was great that the students spent weeks collecting items for the soldiers and took time Friday to package them.

“That shows they really care,” she said.

Students spent about a half-hour selecting items such as personal hygiene products, flip-flops, movies and Girl Scout cookies for the soldiers. As the flat-rate shipping boxes filled up, some students sat on the floor, trying to make everything fit.

“To me, this is a super important thing,” teacher Meg Bingham said, handing the students more letters to put in their boxes.

The service project shows them they can serve others, she said, and it teaches them others are making huge sacrifices for them.

“They find value in it,” Bingham said.

This is the second time Mid-Valley has partnered with Fox Valley Troop Support, she said. Because the two groups serve the same areas – Batavia, Kaneland, Geneva, Central and St. Charles school districts – it’s a natural fit, she said.

Fox Valley Troop Support sends anywhere from 55 too 100 boxes a month, Tobusch said. She noted the need is especially great this time of year because people tend to forget about the program after Christmas.

The organization accepts donations – cash is always accepted to pay for the $13.30 shipping as are such items as baby wipes and other personal hygiene products, Tobusch said.

“Anything to remind them of home,” troop support member Peggy Reese said, adding soldiers love getting letters from kids.

“It might be the one thing that turns a bad day good,” Tobusch said.

She said those wanting to volunteer may do so May 31 and June 1, the group’s spring care package event at the Batavia VFW, 645 S. River St., Batavia. Sorting is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. May 31, and packing is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 1, or whenever all the boxes are packed, she said.