This holiday season, men and women serving overseas in the military will receive gifts from home with the help of two Jamestown High School students.
Amanda Hansen, a senior, and Tony Russo, a junior, have been assisting the Blue Star Mothers Lake Erie New York Chapter 4 with its Christmas care packages campaign this year by taking donations throughout the month.
The local chapter of Blue Star Mothers, a national organization for military mothers with children who are serving or have served, aspire to provide U.S. servicemen and women serving abroad with Christmas cards and gifts every year. According to Amanda, she became involved in the donation process at the recommendation of LeAnn Love, director of the college/career counseling center at JHS.
Amanda Hansen, a JHS senior, and Tony Russo, a junior, pose in front of a donation box for the Blue Star Mothers Christmas care package campaign. They will be accepting donations at the school until Nov. 25.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
"I was told about this project by Mrs. Love around the end of October," Amanda said. "Basically, I got involved because I didn't have very much community service on my resume."
Love said Amanda, as a member of the JHS garden club, needed to find other means of procuring community service hours during the "dead zone" of garden club in the winter. Love, who has a nephew currently serving in Afghanistan, said she used her knowledge of the Blue Star Mothers Christmas care package campaign to attempt to bolster Amanda's resume, and then contacted Susan Rowley, the local chapter president.
"When Amanda was searching for a community service project, I thought she could go one step further than just sending cards and letters, and send the actual things they need but can't get because of funding cuts," Love said. "So when I found that there was a possibility to donate, and there's definitely a need, then that's what community service is all about."
Amanda and Tony, who said he will be heading up the project next year after Amanda has graduated, have been collecting items since Nov. 4. They posted the official donation lists used by the Blue Star Mothers campaign throughout the school. The items being accepted for the campaign include a variety of foods, toiletries, books, games, toys, gift cards and clothing items.
Amanda said there is no limit to the amount of items that can be donated. She said a competition is being held among homeroom classes to see which can bring in the most items, and the winning class will be rewarded with doughnuts and coffee.
"Helping people is always a reward in and of itself, knowing that you're providing something to other people that they wouldn't otherwise have," Amanda said.
"And these are people who are not that far removed from high school," Love said. "My nephew graduated high school not too long ago. So this is a group of people who could be (the students') friends. And it's easier for the kids to relate to because a lot of them have brothers and sisters and cousins in the service."
Anyone who wishes to donate items at the high school may drop them off at the library between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The collection drive will conclude Monday, Nov. 25, when the items will then be sent for organization at Zion Covenant Church and shipped out Dec. 7.
Love is the staff member advising the students on this project, and she may be contacted at 483-7122 with questions.