TROY — The generosity of 25 preschoolers came full circle on Monday as Master Sergeant Jennifer Godsey of the United States Air Force Reserve paid a special visit to the students at First Kids Christian Cooperative Preschool in Troy.
Under the leadership of teacher Linda Godfrey, First Kids preschoolers have corresponded with Godsey during her time stationed at U.S. Air Force Base Ali Al Salem in Kuwait. Godfrey’s classroom has maintained Godsey’s presence with a photo posted of her in uniform.
“We made arrangements to stay in touch before she was deployed in July,” Godfrey said. “We sent pictures for Halloween, for Christmas, and for her birthday. When we first started teaching the children the Pledge of Allegiance, I also started teaching them about the flag and the military, and how both deserve our respect.”
In October, First Kids’ preschoolers raised over $225 to send care packages, which contained original drawings, snacks, toothbrushes, foot powder, and other items, to Godsey and over a dozen other soldiers.
“I was overwhelmed — I certainly didn’t expect the envelope with their drawings,” Godsey said. “When we got the packages from them, it was an amazing overpouring of support from these little guys and gals, who couldn’t even imagine the profound effect it had on us.
“There’s a lot of people over there that got no mail — they didn’t have any family, or didn’t have family who could support sending care packages. It meant a lot to them. To get packages or mail from home helps keep everybody grounded, so that over the 6½ months, we don’t lose that connection.”
Godsey exclaimed that many of the goods sent by First Kids’ preschoolers were gifted to soldiers on their way to other locations.
“Where I was stationed is a transitioning point for people who are moving forward into Iraq and Afghanistan,” Godsey said. “A lot of the goods from those packages went to those soldiers, because they didn’t have things as they moved forward and weren’t able to carry a lot of baggage.
”It just helps to keep that normalcy we all take for granted. You can’t just get up and go to Walmart or Meijer over there — we live off of what we have in our deployed environment. Getting things from home is a little like Christmas.”
During her visit to First Kids, Godsey answered questions about her time in Kuwait, showed pictures of camels and her sleeping quarters, and presented Godfrey and her class an American flag flown in their honor on Dec. 17, during combat mission in the skies over Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Godsey also presented Godfrey with a certificate to commemorate the flag’s significance.
“It’s like completing a circle,” Godsey said of her visit to the preschool. “I wanted to come and visit them, because I wanted them to know how thankful we are for what they did for us,” Godsey said. “At this age, they can’t comprehend what a difference their actions made. We don’t need it to validate our service, but it makes a huge difference knowing there are people who support what we do.”
“I was so excited knowing that she was coming to surprise them,” Godfrey said. “I’m really grateful and thankful.”