Students send Christmas cheer to troops deployed overseas

By Marlena Hartz : CNJ staff writer

Forty-two kindergarten students are sending Christmas wishes to troops in Iraq.
Barry Elementary School’s littlest students have collected games and non-perishable goodies to send to Cannon Air Force Base security forces deployed in Iraq.

This Friday, the items — along with cards and letters from the students — will be bundled inside stockings and shipped to the troops, according to Barry Elementary kindergarten teacher Melissa Griego.

The troops, Griego told her students, “are over there fighting for our country.”

Sending Christmas wishes, she said, “teaches (students) to be empathetic. You are showing care and you are teaching them to take action for something they believe in.”

Griego said one of her students drew a stack of 22 presents for the troops. “That was his way of giving presents,” she said. Another student wrote, “I wish I could play with you.”

Behind the Christ-mas campaign is Barbie Fitzgerald, the mother of a Barry kindergarten student whose husband returned from Iraq in September.
Fitzgerald hoped the class could write letters to the troops. But letter-writing grew to include cards and gifts.

“I wanted to give something back,” said Fitzgerald, who refers to the troops as the “boys.” “It’s just kind of a thank you.”

Reporter’s notebook was compiled by CNJ staff writer Marlena Hartz. Suggested items may be mailed to Managing Editor Rick White at P.O. Box 1689, Clovis 88102. The e-mail address is: