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Local schools host USO project to support deployed Marines

11 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Reba James

Palmcroft Elementary and Woodard Middle School in Yuma, Ariz., held a United Services Organization drive, May 3-13, to collect supplies for service members deployed to Afghanistan. The schools chose to support local Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

The two schools collected non-perishable items, such as packaged snacks, instant foods and drinks. Other items donated included sunscreen lotion and lip balms for those overseas. The items were donated and dropped off at the front office of both schools.

Leta Ferrell, a fourth and fifth grade, resource aid, at Palmcroft Elementary organized the project. Her spouse is a Marine who recently deployed to Afghanistan with VMA-311.

Ferrell explained the Marines going to Afghanistan, just like her husband, go with mostly nothing. Upon arrival overseas they either have to purchase the items they need or wait to get it shipped from home, so donating items to the USO helps the troops and their families.

Through online research, Ferrell realized that the USO centers in Afghanistan had a shortage in supplies. “They said their cabinets were very empty, and were posting pictures of what they needed on Facebook. So I thought it might be a good idea for our school to get involved with something like that,” said Ferrell.

She made it her personal mission to organize a drive at Palmcroft. With the help of Palmcroft’s “Student Ambassadors,” the school’s student council, sponsored the drive.

Woodard Jr. High School donated popcorn, in addition to Palmcroft’s donations, and all of the supplies went to the USO at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan to support VMA-311.

Community involvement and support from students and parents at both schools brought the USO project to life. Altogether the schools were able to donate approximately 2,500 items to send to the USO. Palmcroft elementary donated 2,125 items, with the kindergarten class donating more than half, and Woodard Jr. High School donated a total of 415 bags of popcorn.

“Woodard was so excited to help collect items for our troops in Afghanistan,” said Andy Wait, Woodard Jr. High School’s principal. “Every year we try to do something to show our support. In the past we have had spirit assemblies and spirit days that revolve around the theme ‘We support our troops’ and have participated in ‘red shirt Fridays.’”

“Yuma is a community that comes together more than I’ve ever seen,” said Brenda Dennis, a fourth grade teacher at Palmcroft elementary. “It’s amazing the support Yuma will give. Our community is very supportive of the base, local organizations and sports.”

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