MODESTO -- Students at five Modesto elementary schools are bringing bottles, cans and other recyclables to school for care packages to be sent to soldiers in the Middle East. The used containers won't be sent to the troops they'll be recycled to raise money for postage.
Sheila Wilmouth, who runs the Soldiers Far From Home nonprofit program from her Newman home, said she is thrilled to work with the schools. For the next six weeks, students at Shackelford, Burbank, Martone, Fairview and El Vista will collect recyclables.
A sixth school, Enslen, is not taking part in the recycling, but students will collect items for care packages to be sent in May.
"This works out great because that means the city of Modesto elementary schools that are participating will be the ones both raising the funds for the shipping of the care packages going out at the end of May and providing the items to ship as well," Wilmouth said in an email.
Military representatives visited the schools Tuesday to kick off the program and discuss how appreciative soldiers are to get packages. Wilmouth's group sends everything from socks and magazines to holiday decorations and toothpaste.
It generally costs roughly $700 or $800 to post a shipment; Wilmouth said any funds in excess of that will go toward a weeklong retreat she is trying to help put together for local military families.
The school that generates the most money will win an ice cream social, sponsored by Duane Costa, owner of Cold Stone Creamery in Turlock and Modesto. That has some administrators talking smack:
"We're going to beat everybody," Burbank Principal Darin Willett said Tuesday.
Three fourth-grade students Valeria Barragan, Isabel Reyes and Jasmin Villeda agreed, although as they shivered at Tuesday's kickoff, the thought of ice cream wasn't as appealing as it will be on a sunny day in May.
On the Net: www.soldiersfarfromhome.com
Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.