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Plum/Oakmont

Plum students reach out to help soldiers in Afghanistan

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 4:42 p.m.
Oblock Junior High Reach Out club members McKaley Taylor, Emma Kozbelt, Kaitlyn McKenna, Sara Mastorovich, and Kate Gendron pack boxes of supplies to be delivered to Military Connections.
Lillian Dedomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Oblock Junior High Reach Out club members McKaley Taylor, Emma Kozbelt, Kaitlyn McKenna, Sara Mastorovich, and Kate Gendron pack boxes of supplies to be delivered to Military Connections.
Maya Nichols, Morgan Yingling and Lily Klucinec sort boxes of supplies for packaging on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Maya Nichols, Morgan Yingling and Lily Klucinec sort boxes of supplies for packaging on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Oblock Junior High students recently conducted a drive to collect items to be donated to Military Connections, a Penn Hills organization that sends care packages to members of the military overseas. Surrounded by boxes of supplies collected are: front, McKaley Taylor, Emma Kozbelt, Kaitlyn McKenna, Sara Mastorovich, Kate Gendron, Morgan Filar and Ella Logan. Back, Summer Tissue, founder of Military Connections, Lily Klucinec, Maya Nichols, Morgan Yingling, Lori Senkewitz, Reach Out Club co-sponsor, and Ron Sakolsky, sponsor.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Oblock Junior High students recently conducted a drive to collect items to be donated to Military Connections, a Penn Hills organization that sends care packages to members of the military overseas. Surrounded by boxes of supplies collected are: front, McKaley Taylor, Emma Kozbelt, Kaitlyn McKenna, Sara Mastorovich, Kate Gendron, Morgan Filar and Ella Logan. Back, Summer Tissue, founder of Military Connections, Lily Klucinec, Maya Nichols, Morgan Yingling, Lori Senkewitz, Reach Out Club co-sponsor, and Ron Sakolsky, sponsor.
Plum's Oblock Junior High students recently conducted a drive to collect items to be donated to Military Connections, a Penn Hills organization that sends care packages to members of the military overseas. The drive was sponsored by Oblock's Reach Out Club.  Ron Sakolsky, sponsor of the club, presented Summer Tissue, founder of Military Connections, with a cash donation from the proceeds of the recent fundraiser.
. Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
Plum's Oblock Junior High students recently conducted a drive to collect items to be donated to Military Connections, a Penn Hills organization that sends care packages to members of the military overseas. The drive was sponsored by Oblock's Reach Out Club. Ron Sakolsky, sponsor of the club, presented Summer Tissue, founder of Military Connections, with a cash donation from the proceeds of the recent fundraiser.

American troops in Afghanistan will receive some comforts from home courtesy of care packages sent by Plum students.

Oblock Junior High's Reach Out club and the Penn Hills nonprofit Military Connections for the second year teamed up to deliver cereal, peanuts, chips, cookies, gum and other non-perishables to the soldiers and Marines abroad.

Donations were collected last month and were shipped Oct. 10.

“We ship to men and women who don't have any family or friends,” said the nonprofit's founder and president, Summer Tissue. “The care packages they receive come strictly from Military Connections. We try to ship boxes every Tuesday, and we rely on groups like this to collect the types of supplies that the troops are asking for. There's a great need for food overseas. We're so appreciative.”

Reach Out sponsor Ron Sakolsky encouraged the school's 572 students to donate at least one thing to the cause. The club ended up with 850 items.

“Plum families are very responsive to getting these kids in community service,” Sakolsky said.

Last year, eighth-grader Lily Klucinec brought Military Connections to the Plum school as part of a Girl Scout project.

Sakolsky said that effort was a success, and there was more participation this time around.

“We really just spread the message around the school,” said McKaley Taylor, 13.

Seventh-grader Maya Nichols helped gather items and packed boxes.

“It seemed like it would be a good thing to do to give back,” said Maya, 12.

Kaitlyn McKenna, 13, said she was proud to participate in something to benefit the troops.

“They don't really get much,” she said. “Most of the kids in seventh and eighth grade take things for granted a lot. They don't really see that these people need things that we have daily.”

Reach Out had a Blow Pop sale at its back-to-school dance in addition to collecting donations for the care packages. The club raised $200.

It donated $75 of that to Military Connections, and $75 to Girl Up in memory of Joshua David Blacksmith. Girl Up is a United Nations Foundation campaign that helps women in developing nations.

Blacksmith died Sept. 11 from kidney failure. The 22-year-old was the son of Oblock physical science teacher Bill Blacksmith.

“Joshua touched a lot of people in this area,” Sakolsky said. “Now, by donating to Girl Up, Joshua touches the entire world.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367.

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