Perry Middle School students pack care boxes to send to troops overseas

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
From left, Perry seventh-graders Sofia Martinez, Jacobo Cerna, Mosses Calderon and Misha Sarpee work together to sort and pack items for the care boxes.

Perry Middle School students moved through the line, grabbing handfuls of beef jerky sticks, toothbrushes, bottles of lotion, packs of gum and more.

Items were placed in boxes before being spread out on tables in the middle school lobby. Small groups of students sorted the items before packing them tightly and marking everything that went back into the boxes.

The care boxes were sent to local troops stationed overseas as part of a project organized by the Perry Middle School.

Kathy Pantzer’s teen leadership classes packed eight boxes last year to send to her nephew in Baghdad. 

Lily Myers, left, and Kalley Whelchel pack items for a care box on Monday, Feb. 1.

“This year, one of my students, her dad is stationed overseas with the National Guard and we thought, ‘You know what? What a great project,’ and the kids jumped in,” Pantzer said.

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students in Pantzer’s teen leadership classes, as well as iJAG, made cards and letters and collected items over the past few weeks. They also received donations from corporate sponsors, including Hy-Vee, Fareway, Rainbow International, Grove and Platt Dental and McKee Auto.

Others made donations to help pay for shipping costs. The care boxes were sent to local troops serving overseas. 

“It’s just a little something to let them know how much we appreciate them,” Pantzer said.

Jaquelynn Heater gets help packing a care box from Matt Bramer, with VFW Post 2060.

Members of the VFW Post 2060 were on hand to help pack the boxes. They know first-hand how much the troops will appreciate them. 

“It’s like Christmas,” Matt Bramer said.

“I remember when I was serving, to get a care package from home was awesome,” added Ron Leber, VFW Junior Vice Commander for the Department of Iowa, as well as member of VFW Post 2060.

“The troops will love this, hopefully the kids love doing it for them.” 

Some of the items packed by Perry Middle School students. The care boxes will be sent to local troops deployed overseas.

Seventh-graders Jacobo Cerna and Misha Sarpee were busy sorting and packing items into boxes to send to the troops.

“(We’re) just sending them a nice package to give them a message that everything is going to be OK overseas,” Sarpee said.

Pantzer said it’s important for the students to know why the troops are serving overseas.

“I think they need to understand why they get to come to school every day, why they have the freedoms that they have,” she said. “(It’s) because of people like our men and women in the military who make it so, who leave their families for a year at a time to make sure that they get to come to school every day.”

Jasmine Armenta, left, and Emely Hurtado pack care boxes on Monday, Feb. 1.

It’s a lesson that Leber is happy the Perry Middle School teachers are teaching to their students.

“With the VFW, we are proud that our students in Perry support our military,” said Leber.

That support was on full display last week as boxes were filled with items and lined up against the wall. Pantzer said they started with 20 boxes and before long, they ran up to the post office to grab 15 more. 

The students ended up packing 44 boxes. Raccoon Valley Bank donated funds so the boxes could be shipped overseas to deployed soldiers from the Perry community.

“Just an awesome show of support for our troops,” Leber said.

Perry sixth-graders Bryceton Richardson, left, and Levi Perry-Swanson sort and pack items for a care box on Monday, Feb. 1.