'Treats for Troops' comforts soldiers overseas
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Mon., Nov. 11, 2013
When Hebron teacher Christopher Lapsis transferred from Hebron Elementary School (grades 3-6) to Gilead Hill (grades K-2), he had a lot of adjustments to make. “One of the hardest things for me when I left Hebron Elementary was saying good-bye to the Take a Veteran to School Program, which I had started,” said Lapsis.
Lapsis wanted to find a way to celebrate Veterans Day that was more developmentally appropriate for his new students. “That is when my wife came across an article in Women's Day Magazine and shared it with me, knowing that I had been looking for a way to make Veterans Day a little more meaningful to students at Gilead Hill School,” he said.
In its third year this year, the Treats for Troops program collected more than 200 pounds of candy in 2012. “I was able to send three boxes of candy to each of eight soldiers,” said Lapsis. This year, with the program still ongoing, the children had already donated more than 50 boxes of candy. Parents appreciate the program, because it provides a meaningful use for excess Halloween candy. And the package recipients are always very grateful. “I have received letters, e-mails, and packages from the recipients,” said Lapsis. “We have even received a few American flags, which have been flown over bases overseas. Soldiers have even come to visit me upon their return.”
For some soldiers, the cards made by Gilead Hill students mean even more than the boxes of goodies. Daniel M. Arkins, Jr., wrote to Lapsis and his second-graders in 2011 from an Army base in Afghanistan. “While the candy was great, your cards were the best part,” wrote Arkins. “We are always grateful to receive cards and packages from home. We are even more appreciative of the fact that each package represents someone at home who is thinking about us as we serve overseas.”
In 2012, Captain Christian Morgan wrote to Lapsis’ classroom from Afghanistan. He told the children a little bit about life overseas and thanked them for their gifts. “There aren't many comforts from home here, and receiving boxes like the two you put together for us highlighted the month,” wrote Morgan. “There are a lot of brave men and women who are sacrificing precious time away from family and friends to keep our homes safe. The kind letters and gifts we receive from patriots like you provide encouragement, lift spirits and empower us all to continue on, despite any hardship,” wrote Morgan.