Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Kids pack gift boxes for soldiers in Iraq

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

SPRINGFIELD TWP. - Robin Madden was near tears Monday - tears of joy.

She watched seventh-graders at St. Vivian School wrap insulated mugs and coffee, footballs and hand warmers for two soldiers stationed in Iraq - including her son, Brenden.

"I am very grateful. The kids are doing a project giving their time and effort for these guys who are giving their time and effort for the people of Iraq,'' Madden said. "The good you do... it comes around.''

The students raised $918.81 through bake sales and a car wash to make Christmas a little brighter for Madden, 23, who attended St. Vivian, and for 1st Lt. John Ellerbrock, 23, of Fairfield, whose mom, Mary Ann, teaches at St. Vivian.

""I'm very appreciative for the prayers, the awareness and this effort. I can pass that on to John in my e-mails,'' Mary Ann Ellerbrock said.

The students have been writing and e-mailing the soldiers and asked them for a wish list for their units. About 40 soldiers will receive movies; Play Station II games, a VCR, coffeepot and other goodies. Packages will be mailed next week.

Included will be a video reminding them of Southwest Ohio. The tape has scenes from the fund raisers along with the kids singing Christmas carols and a drive through Cincinnati, lit up for Christmas. It will even contain the jam session of Madden's younger brother, Zach.

"This project made the whole community of the parish and school come together," said parent Gina Schenk.

Julie Rice, 13, was surprised at some of the soldiers' requests.

"They wanted (the movie) Christmas Story. I didn't think they'd want something that kiddish,"' said Julie, of St. Bernard. "I thought they'd want something I would watch."

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