Students send holiday greetings to troops

The Vindicator (Youngstown)


Taft Elementary fourth grader Jaiquale Gibbs displays the letter that he wrote to military service people in Afghanistan. The letters were a writing project in his class. Jaiquale wrote that his class would pray for the service people and that he wants to join the military.

The Vindicator (Youngstown)


Taft Elementary School fourth graders Tanesha Bryant, left, and Tejhae Glenn look over letters they wrote to military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The letters were a writing project in teacher Laurie McEwans’s class at the Youngstown school.

The Vindicator (Youngstown)


Taft Elementary fourth-grade teacher Laurie McEwan holds the Nov. 7 edition of The Vindicator with the “Operation Holiday Cheer” feature that prompted the idea.

By Denise Dick


Fourth-graders in Laurie McEwan’s class at Taft Elementary School wanted U.S. Marines serving in Afghanistan to be safe and to know that people at home are thinking about them.

The students wrote letters to the troops last month after The Vindicator ran “Operation Holiday Cheer,” telling readers how to send care packages to military service people overseas.

Peggy Yuhas, a tutor in McEwan’s class at the city school, has a grandson, Sgt. Steven Bennett, serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. It was her suggestion to write the letters.

“We decided on Veterans’ Day to write the letters,” McEwan said. “We made it a writing project.”

Yuhas told the students about her grandson and other troops serving overseas.

The children wrote each letter on a snowman card, enclosed them in a box with some hard candy and toiletries and sent it to the Marines. The box was addressed to Bennett with the idea he would share with his buddies.

“We wanted them to get them before Christmas,” McEwan said.

The class hasn’t heard back yet, but the kids say that they hope they do.

“I wrote, ‘Thank you for serving our country and I hope you’re safe,’” said Ceaonnie Jones, 9. “I hope you have a good Thanksgiving dinner. God bless you all and sleep well.”

Erica Carlisle, 11, wished the Marines a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas in her letter. She hopes it makes them happy when they read it.

“I wrote that I hope that they feel safe and loved,” said Sapphire Smith, 9, whose uncle is retired from the military.

Jaiquale Gibbs, 9, urged the service men and women to always be safe in his letter.

“I wrote to tell them that God is watching over them and that they’re never alone and they’ll be protected,” said Tr Moore, 9. “They’ll always be safe and I told them to always have faith.”

Tanesha Bryant, 9, told the recipients of her letter to be safe and to have a nice Christmas, she said. She hopes it makes them “happy and thankful.”