A group of Mountain Pointe High School students has sent troops overseas hundreds of packages as their way of saying, “Thank you.” And a few weeks ago, they got a very special thank you back.
Mountain Pointe’s Support Our Soldiers club received an American flag that flew over the Garrison Command Headquarters at Camp Taji in Iraq, along with a certificate of appreciation.
While the club has received many thank-you notes and pictures in response to the comfort items they send, the flag was something extra special.
“I was shocked,” said Morgan Phister, the club’s co-president and a Mountain Pointe junior. “The flag was just a little overwhelming.”
The group got its start two years ago after one of Phister’s neighbors, who has a husband and two sons in the military, asked the family to bake some cookies so they could be sent to the troops.
Phister’s sister, who has since graduated, decided she wanted to bring the idea to school. They collected the names and addresses of troops from fellow students and friends and started sending care packages overseas.
“It’s important to thank those who are serving you selflessly,” Phister said.
The club has now sent more than 200 boxes to troops containing everything from baby wipes and sun screen to small games and spices. Shipments can be big – the last one was 32 standard shipping boxes and two 75-pound boxes of comfort items, Phister said.
The flag and certificate came from a friend of Marilee Edel, the club’s co-sponsor. They had sent this particular package and one day, Edel’s friend called to thank her.
“We had this whole humbling conversation. She was thanking us when we were thanking them,” said Edel, an English teacher.
A week or so later, a package showed up at Edel’s house containing the flag and a certificate of authenticity saying the flag flew over Camp Taji on April 4.
“This certificate says, ‘This flag is a symbol of the freedom and resolve of the United States,’” Edel said. “It’s that statement that has rendered people speechless.”
The club has about eight active students, but plenty of others help out. For instance, the school’s culinary students have made a wide variety of cookies to send overseas and other classes have written letters to include in packages, said co-president Rico Medina, a senior.
The club also has drives periodically, including one going on now. Students can drop off items or cash in any teacher’s room.
“It’s the whole entire school working with us to give us anything they can,” said Medina, who would also like to get the community involved, inviting people to drop off items or addresses for troops who might like to receive items in the school’s front office.
And if others drop items off, they just may be able to see that flag: Plans are to prominently display both the flag and the certificate in the office.