Warren soldier thanks students for gifts

Holly Burt’s computer class decided to send Christmas presents to Burt’s son and his platoon in Afghanistan.

It was originally the Beaty teacher’s idea, but the class took the initiative and ran with it. It then expanded to include the rest of the student body and faculty.

Originally, presents sent included candy and puzzles, but when Burt asked her son, Sgt. Matthew Burt what they needed, he said “socks.” The winters in Afghanistan can be brutal, with months of below zero weather, so the students mission grew to include winter gear, like boots and handwarmers.

In addition to what the group came up with, the Boot Box donated three pairs of boots, Erie Sports Store donated six pairs, and online store Fox River, a favorite with soldiers, donated 20 pairs of wool socks. Each year, instead of buying each other Christmas gifts, the Miles family, consisting of Cheryl, Robert and Soni Miles; Don Gillette, Tracie and Bradley Gray, select a cause to donate the money they would have spent.

This year, the class project was selected and a large number of items were donated. Donations from AMVETS Women’s Auxiliary, Adam Elms, and WalMart helped pay for shipping costs. The students helped pack and ship the gifts, and even filled out U.S. Customs forms.When asked what completing the forms was like, student Noah Becker said “Awful. Some forms had to be filled out six times before they were accepted.”

Sgt. Burt is serving with Fourth Platoon, Alpha Company 216, First Infantry Division, U.S. Army and is home on a 30-day leave. He visited the students on Thursday to thank them and to answer questions about life in Afghanistan. The students were interested in whether or not the soldiers played football (no, it’s too rocky), what they ate (MREs, Meals Ready to Eat), did the MREs have strawberry milkshakes in them (surprisingly, yes), did they sleep in tents (yes), did they have heaters in the tents (yes), what did they do for fun (play cards), and was he going to re-enlist (probably not).