Soldiers flying into Syracuse should expect an especially warm welcoming as they arrive at Hancock International Airport. This week, Gillette Road Middle School's Military Support Group is sponsoring Treats 4 Troops, collecting prepackaged goods to be placed in the Gregory J. Harris Military Courtesy Room at the airport.
The student organization set up a table at the school's main entrance, which is also near the cafeteria, and collected snacks, drinks, etc. as well as monetary donations throughout the day's lunch periods. They had already collected three boxes full of donations as of early Wednesday. But they're not just looking for food items.
"To look for the big picture, Wii games would be really great," said Libby Thomas, the group's advisor and a teaching assistant at Gillette. "You have to imagine a soldier, male or female, being at the airport, waiting for bus to come and get them and the bus is coming from Fort Drum and they want to get back to their family in Fort Drum on their base and they have to wait, or they have to spend the night, or the weather's bad, and if we can provide them with something comfortable, something to do, something that they don't have to pay for, you know we've helped them out, so anything along those lines."
Group members consist of 5th-7th graders who either have relatives who are veterans or are currently serving in the military, or are sympathetic and supportive of those who do know someone in the service, according to Thomas.
"My grandpa was in the military and then he died just last year and he was a vet and it made me want to do it," said David Hollis, a 5th grader.
The group is looking forward to their annual end-of-year patriotic celebration, U.S.A. Day, which includes still displays and display vehicles that pay tribute to all U.S. Armed Forces. It takes place on Flag Day, June 14th.