Thanks to students, operation endures a bit longer
Mar 11, 2013 (Reading Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Food and first-aid supplies. Soap and shampoo. Towels and tweezers.
All of it and more already had been collected by Feb. 21. All Simone Sauers-Houck had left to do was pack it, seal it and send off what she thought would be Operation Enduring Freedom's final shipment to troops overseas.
And then, just a day before she planned to send everything away, the phone rang. Sauers-Houck picked it up to hear an offer to help from Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center students who had seen a television news story on her work.
But, she said, there really wasn't anything for them to do at that point.
Not to be deterred, the students enlisted Sauers-Houck's support to launch an Operation Enduring Freedom collection drive of their own, with plans to accept as many donations as possible through March 22.
"Honestly, I just felt we needed to help other people, because most of the time we just think of ourselves," said senior Yanelis Herrera. "Giving back to them, I thought, would be nice. They really don't have much, so I thought our help would be appreciated."
Knowing how much packages meant to her son, Brock J. Minnich, during his service in Operation Desert Storm, Sauers-Houck felt inspired to found Operation Enduring Freedom in the aftermath of 9/11.
For the years that followed, she worked with a team of volunteers to collect nonperishable foods and other items from home.
But after three years doing with only a few volunteers the work that once took 40, she decided to make February's shipment the last. Now, with an army of volunteers from the school, support has flowed in anew, but Sauers-Houck plans to take more of a hands-off role in this round of collections.
With the confidential list of soldiers' names, she will assist in shipping the items and offer advice. Otherwise, Sauers-Houck said, she can only hope the experience proves as rewarding for the students as it was for her.
"It's a very important lesson for them," she said. "Maybe these kids can have more of a push with people and get everybody energized to get it done, which I'm hoping they can do. They're going to have a full plate."
Contact C. Ryan Barber: 610-371-5081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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