Pupils go above, beyond for overseas soldiers

Pupils in Jennifer Koenig's first-grade class at Point Elementary School turned their fundraiser into a learning opportunity by separating and counting all the money they collected.

Pupils in Jennifer Koenig’s first-grade class at Point Elementary School turned their fundraiser into a learning opportunity by separating and counting all the money they collected.

After a moving Veterans Day program at Point Elementary School, Jennifer Koenig’s first-grade class decided they wanted to do more, according to a Mehlville School District news release.

The pupils had their very first class meeting to decide how they could help the men and women serving overseas. After much deliberation, the class decided to prepare care packages for the soldiers and established a plan to sell pretzels and take donations to fill these packages.

To personalize the project, the class began corresponding with one of the first-grade pupils’ fathers, Todd Martin, a civilian working in Afghanistan for the Department of Defense.

Martin put the class in contact with Command Sgt. Maj. Barry Smallwood of the 148th Brigade Support Battalion and correspondences quickly followed.

Martin and Smallwood sent photos and e-mails to the class, making the project more concrete for the pupils, who were able to see the people involved.

“The class is the driving force in this entire project. I am just here for guidance, really. They decided how they wanted to honor the soldiers, how to do it and how to get others involved,” Koenig stated in the release.

Pupils delivered the pretzel forms, collected the orders and opened each envelope with pretzel orders and money. The class made counting the money an educational opportunity by sorting the coins and counting the dollars.

Pupils even donned plastic gloves and filled each and every one of the 670 pretzel orders. They raised more than $300 from that fundraiser.

Word quickly spread throughout the school and community, with monetary and care package donations pouring in. Hard candy, gum, cough drops, individual drink mixes and lip balm are all items the soldiers really appreciate.

Smallwood thanked the class for being so thoughtful and remembering the soldiers while they are overseas.

“We deeply appreciate what your class is doing on behalf of our soldiers,” Smallwood wrote in an e-mail to the first-grade pupils. “When you are away from home and your loved ones, letters and packages are always welcomed.”