Wohlwend pupils adopt soldier for Christmas

For the second time in three years, teacher Wendy Soell and her pupils at Wohlwend Elementary in the Mehlville School District have adopted a soldier for Christmas.

This year, Soell’s fourth-grade pupils are sending a holiday package to U.S. Marine Ryan Fletcher, a Parkway South High School graduate serving in Iraq.

Helping organize the adopt-a-soldier project was parent Mary Beth Indelicato.

Her son, 10-year-old Dominic, is a member of Soell’s class. Indelicato also helped two years ago when her son was in Soell’s second-grade class. She researched the Internet to find the necessary information about a local soldier serving in Iraq to help the pupils adopt Fletcher for the holidays.

Soell’s pupils brought in packaged foods, games, snacks, a disposable camera, batteries, toiletries and other treats to send to Fletcher. They also donated money to purchase phone cards so Fletcher will be able to call his family in St. Louis. Indelicato, who works at an orthodontist’s office, also collected toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to add to the holiday package.

Pupils wrote greeting cards for Fletcher and created a colorful banner on a bed sheet that will be included in the holiday package. The children hope Fletcher will share his treats and banner with the other members of his outfit.

Besides wanting to share with her pupils the true meaning of the holiday season, Soell has a personal reason for adopting a soldier. She lost a personal friend in this war and keeps his photo hanging in her classroom just below the American flag.