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Pound Ridge Students Reach Out to U.S. Troops

POUND RIDGE N.Y. – U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have an easier time beating the heat this summer thanks to some “care” packages sent to them by Local Hero students from Pound Ridge Elementary School.

Local Heroes, part of the PTA’S PRIDE program, is an after-school class that shows students how they can make a difference in their communities and the world, by taking action to bring about change and to help others in need.

The Local Heroes class was conceived by PTA members Melinda Velez, Erika Long and Holly Conetta, who also teach the class. The PRIDE program is a collection of 25 after-school enrichment classes that range in topics from arts to science to sports.

“My son gets very excited about the idea of soldiers and battles and things like that,” said Conetta. “I talked to him about the reality of it. They have families and they are far away from home. I said to him, ‘what can you do to help them?’

The kits students sent to the troops contain items such as sunblock, bug repellent, Chapstick, thirst-quenching gum along with things for the soldiers to give out to local children such as pencils and inflatable balls.

“The soldiers are going out into the communities and trying to befriend these [local] people and help them with them with the infrastructures,” Conetta said. “These are ice-breakers.”

The Beat the Heat package project was done in conjunction with some of the members of Pound Ridge’s Neighbor to Neighbor adult seniors group.

“We thought it would be a project that they’d be interested in,” Conetta said. “We invited them to come to the school and they would each sit with a group of kids and help supervise them as they packaged the items.”

Along with each kit was a note that stated: “Dear US Soldier: We want you to know that we are thankful for all that you are doing for your country and our world. We are sending you a few things from home to let you know that we are thinking about you and that we support you.”

Some of the other projects the Local Heroes class has undertaken this past session include a drive for baby supplies for Open Door Medical centers to help kids in families with little money have a healthy start to life. They also assembled camp-supply kits for Children’s Hope Chest so that all kids will have the basic supplies they need while they attend summer camp. The class then learned about the role of junior volunteer first responders in the community by hosting and asking questions of volunteer police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. They also assembled soup jars for the senior citizens of Pound Ridge, letting them know they are valued members of the community.

Connetta said that the Beat the Heat packages for the troops was an appropriate project for the group with Memorial Day approaching.

“It’s Memorial Day and everyone should be thinking about the soldiers,” she said.

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