Plum students reach out to help soldiers in Afghanistan
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.