Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Minus 137 Days - Good News Sunday

Around the country, military moms take their support roles seriously. Some moms, whose own soldiers have returned from active duty, quickly and eagerly adopted other units, knowing firsthand that support from home helps can save lives by improving troop morale.

Meet Karen, known to our online military family chat room as "Tig's Mom." She recently organized a classroom project for children to decorate Valentine cookie to send to the troops:
I took tons of cookies donated by local bakeries--along with tons of frosting, sprinkles, etc--to 5th Grade Classes at a local elementary school. These kids who have helped in the past are the most patriotic and amazing kids that I've ever had the honor of helping support our troops.

Well, it was a Huge Success!!!!! What fun! Exhausting. but FUN! Some of these cookies are gorgeous!!! I did have to make another trip to the store to buy some more sprinkles, gel writers, M&Mall 's and Red Hots to decorate the cookies. But we made it through! Another volunteer and my neighbor assisted me, and man, am I glad they helped.

Although it was quite a bit of work, it was fun. The kids had a blast and did a great job. Some of those kids were very creatively begging to eat the cookies, 'They are tempting, they smell wonderful and look yummy too!'

We had over 250 Cookies decorated by about 120 or so kids. The kids also created a lot of Valentine Cards for the troops to send in the packages. Their bulletin board is quickly being covered in letters back from the troops.

Of course I took some pictures! And so did the photographer for a magazine that's doing an article on my organization. This is going to be terrific, I'm sure.

When I had stopped at the Marine Recruiter's office earlier in the week, he gave me a huge stack of posters for the kids. They were excited about that! We're also going to set up a date and time for the Recruiter and his boss to go visit the kids class. Fifth Grade is a little early for recruiting, but these kids are so patriotic and thrilled with any Military Person, the air they breathe will be great, let alone seeing them in person. LOL

I showed the kids the flag I received from one of my adopted Marine units, they loved it! Little do they know that 1st Sgt is sending them a signed flag by all the Marines too! We read letters from the Army, Navy, Marines and Airforce to the kids as well, I'd been saving quite a stack for them.

A good time was had by all, and the troops will love the goodies made by the kids. "Love is Sweet, sometimes Sticky and Crumbly, but very SWEET!"
I remember two particular college interns who assisted my own fourth grade teacher. They made geography come alive by serving food samples from different countries...chocolate from Holland, caviar from Russia, etc. It's not beyond possibility the seeds they planted helped develop my love for travel and ultimately my career as a travel writer. Imagine what good seeds Karen is planting in her class!

If you're inspired to help, but don't know where to start, begin by reading about Soldier's Angels, a project started in 2003 by the mother of a soldier who, upon his return from active duty in Iraq, expressed concern for other soldiers who didn't receive letters or packages from home. Now, thousands of volunteers affiliated with the non-profit organization support thousands of adopted military personnel.

Congratulations to you and your wonderfully patriotic kids, Tig's Mom! And thanks to Soldier's Angels everywhere.