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Graduate, students team up to adopt Afghanistan village

March 26, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Sabrina Monn knows how to motivate people who are thousands of miles away.

A 1998 James Buchanan High School graduate, Monn, 22, is serving with the U.S. Army's 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Afghanistan.

Monn sends e-mails to Peggy Stoner, her former high school social studies teacher, about her experiences with the people of Afghanistan. Her communications are laced with photographs of life in Afghan villages.

She asked Stoner's students to adopt the tiny village of Maiger.

"Don't ask us where it is," Stoner said. "We can't find it on the map."

Stacy Sprow, 16, a sophomore, became the sparkplug who charged up the project, her fellow students said.

"It really hit you how people are treated there and how lucky we are to live here in America," Sprow said.

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"I couldn't imagine living without all that we have here," said Nicole Soler, 16, a fellow sophomore.

Leigh Miller, 18, a senior and president of the student council, was a freshman when Monn was a senior. "Whatever she did, she put her all into it," Miller said. "She was very active."

Stoner described Monn as a "good ... student. She was always effervescent, always busy with life."

Monn joined the U.S. Army Reserve while she was still in school. She worked for area banks after graduation until her unit was deployed to Bosnia, her first overseas tour of duty. Her parents live in Fayetteville, Pa.

The students organized a schoolwide drive that netted nearly $600 and enough supplies - coats, hats and mittens, school supplies, personal hygiene items and some toys - to fill 22 large boxes. They were shipped to Monn in Afghanistan through the U.S. Army.

They launched their campaign with a schoolwide PowerPoint presentation over the building's television network. The presentation carried excerpts from Monn's e-mails.

Monn arrived in Afghanistan in November and started to send e-mails to Stoner.

In one, Monn described Afghanistan as "stoneaged. If Bosnia is considered a Third World country, this has to be seventh or eighth."

In another, Monn wrote, "The little things we do REALLY make a big difference."

The Afghans who will get the boxes range from elementary school students to adults, the students said.

They said they want to continue with the project through the rest of the school year and hope that other students will keep it going.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Afghan village project can send a check or supplies to James Buchanan High School Activities Fund, ATTN: Afghanistan Project, 4773 Fort Loudon Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236.

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