Students collecting school supplies for Iraqis

April 29, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM


The items are ones that students see and use every day and, in many cases, take for granted.

Something as small as a pencil can make a big difference for children in Iraq, said Matt Koebel, an eighth-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.

When Matt, 14, saw the list of school supplies needed by children in Iraq, he was surprised. When he learned about the conditions of their schools, he was shocked.

Sixty students to a one-room classroom. No supplies. And very few books.

Matt said he and his classmates wanted to help.

Stephanie Ernde, a student teacher at the school, began organizing a collection for Operation Iraqi Children. The nonprofit organization sends school supplies to children in Iraq. Ernde said she coordinated the effort with help from the student government association as a service-learning project.


"To (students in Iraq), a pencil is precious," Ernde said. "And with this project, (E. Russell Hicks) students can really feel like they're making a difference."

Students will collect school supplies May 9 to 30, and Ernde said they are encouraging the public to participate by dropping off supplies at the school at 1321 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown.

"The intention is to allow students to know they can help even though they're young," Ernde said. "Maybe they'll even become lifelong volunteers."

Aaron Finneyfrock, an E. Russell Hicks eighth-grader, said he was excited about collecting supplies for Operation Iraqi Children because he wanted to help those who are less fortunate.

Matt, who is the second vice president of the student government association, said it is rare to hear about the children of Iraq with an influx of images and news reports about the war.

Taylor Rhinehart, an eighth-grader, said she was surprised by the items children in Iraq need.

"But once you see that there are 60 kids to one classroom, it's not that hard to believe," she said.

Aaron said giving those students paper and pens is like giving them the means to be successful in school and beyond.

"I really hadn't even thought about the kids our age over there," Matt said. "But they have no school supplies, and that's why we're doing this."

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