TROY — Twenty-five preschoolers have learned, through proactive measures, that everyone can make a difference in the lives of others.
Throughout the fall, 25 students at First Kids Christian Cooperative Preschool at First United Methodist Church have coordinated with Major Sgt. Jennifer Godsey, a Dayton police officer and major sergeant in the Air Force who is Reserve currently stationed at U.S. Air Force Base Ali Al Salem in Kuwait. Pre-K teacher Linda Godfrey, who is Godsey’s neighbor, made plans with her before her July deployment.
“Jennifer and I were talking over the summer, and I asked her if once school started, the kids could draw pictures and send them to her,” Godfrey said. “She said that it would be wonderful, and that any contact from home is so important when you’re overseas.”
Shortly after the school year began, Godfrey’s students drew pictures for Godsey, who received them and distributed them amongst 16 soldiers.
“She e-mailed us a photo of the soldiers holding up the pictures,” Godfrey said. “When the kids saw that, they were just floored.”
Godfrey’s classroom maintains the presence of Major Sgt. Godsey with a photo posted of her in uniform.
“I explained to Jennifer that we’re very adamant about teaching the children the Pledge of Allegiance, and what that means about showing respect to the men and women in the military,” Godfrey said. “One thing led to another, and I requested that Jennifer find out what was needed there to see what else the class could do.
“Once Jennifer got to Kuwait, she met with the chaplain there to see what the needs were. She found out the chaplain has a ministry for soldiers who need things. They have bins set up that allow people to just help themselves as they come and go. I wondered then how what we could do to involve the kids more.”
Godfrey sent a letter home to parents explaining the opportunity to ship care packages to soldiers in Kuwait, requesting whatever assistance they could provide.
“I didn’t want them to just donate money,” Godfrey said. “I wanted the children involved with this to teach them even though they’re small, they can still show love to somebody else, even if they’re half a world away. I asked the parents to have the children do chores — perhaps things they aren’t normally responsible for — and then parents could decide what their payment would be.”
A total of $226.45 was raised amongst 25 students, as of the Oct. 2 deadline.
“Once the money came in, I went shopping, brought all the stuff in, and showed the kids what they had bought,” Godfrey said.
In addition to items that Major Sgt. Godsey requested, such as coffee, candy, lotion, and foot powder, Godfrey and her students also provided various other food items, toothbrushes, deodorant, games, and more.
The next step involved finding a way to cover the $17.40 per box for shipping.
“One of the moms suggested I call a veterans organization,” Godfrey said. “I called Miami County Veterans Services and spoke to their director. She presented that to her board, and now the Auxiliary VFW in Ludlow Falls are covering the cost of the postage.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Godfrey’s two preschool classes walked together, along with parents and volunteers, to ship their care packages to soldiers in Kuwait. During their visit, students also got a tour of the post office, including a meeting with Postmaster Bruce Grubb and a walk through the sorting room.
“The whole point was to involve the kids showing that they could make a difference,” Godfrey said. “They’re at the age where the world is just now becoming bigger than themselves, that the world exists outside their own family and friends.
“The kids will color pictures on their own without any prompting now, and say, ‘I want to send this to Ms. Jennifer.’ We have prayer time, and kids will say, ‘I want to pray for Ms. Jennifer and the soldiers. Even though they’re young, they can still make a difference, even to strangers that they don’t know.”