Using holiday imagination, a group of local students used their art skills to make a soldier’s holiday a little brighter.
With the guidance of teacher Janet Murray, pre-kindergarten students from L.C. Kerr School’s College Street location made gifts for soldiers at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. The post is the U.S. Army’s main center for basic combat training.
“We talk about soldiers and how they’re away from their families,” Murray said about her students. “They’re out there making sure we’re safe and keeping the bad guys away from us.”
The connection with the soldiers was made through Greg Dirks, principal at Sampson Middle School. For special days such as Thanksgiving and Easter, the students in Murray’s class produce gifts for the soldiers. The children crafted colorful pictures with messages on the back for the soldiers — more than 20 in all were produced for the project.
When Dirks is not leading the middle school, he works with the units at the McWhorter United States Army Reserve Center as a sergeant major. He has served in the U.S. Army for 26 years.
“This has been an annual event for us for a number of years,” Dirks said about the students saying thanks through holiday cards and posters.
In the past, Murray’s class also mailed gifts overseas to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year, Dirks passed them out to soldiers at the post.
“It’s neat because you get to give something from a 4-year-old in a small town like Clinton to someone 44 years old,” Dirks said. “You get to have that common bond to say that we respect you and we’re thankful for the job that you’re doing serving our country.”
Many of the soldiers are currently spending time away from their families while they serve their countries. It’s one of the reasons the younger students wanted to send cards and gifts to the soldiers miles away.
“It shows that someone cares for them and thinks about them during the holiday season,” Dirks said.
Murray agreed about doing something which probably brought glee to the men and women in uniform.
“That’s why we do it,” she said. “We appreciate the sacrifice that they’re making. It’s just a small thing that we do to make sure they get something at Christmas.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.