‘Silly’ plaything has serious function in war

Students collect foam string that troops can use to detect trip wires


Staff Writer

JENNIFER AMATO Linwood Middle School held a Not-So-Silly Silly String Fundraiser on April 20, raising almost $1,800 to send to the troops to purchase cans of Silly String, which are used to detect trip wires and other explosives.JENNIFER AMATO Linwood Middle School held a Not-So-Silly Silly String Fundraiser on April 20, raising almost $1,800 to send to the troops to purchase cans of Silly String, which are used to detect trip wires and other explosives. NORTH BRUNSWICK – Linwood Middle School held an event on April 20 to benefit the troops, in hopes of giving them a string of good luck during their service overseas.

The Not-So-Silly Silly String event raised $1,786 that will be used to purchase Silly String cans, which can be used to detect trip wires. The streams of foam can be sprayed from about 10 feet away, and if the strings are snagged by barely visible wires, the soldiers can tell if a bomb is attached.

Fundraising coordinator Nancy Yauch, an instructional aide at the school, was inspired after reading an article about a woman in Stratford whose son requested the party favors.

“Since she did it and was so successful, we decided to do it here,” said Yauch, whose nephew, Lance Cpl. Casey Lyon, a 22-year-old Marine from South Brunswick, is currently serving his second term in Anbar, Iraq.

Students donated $1 to wear their pajamas and faculty donated $5 to wear jeans, although some people decided to make a contribution without actually participating in the clothing change. Yauch made lanyard string necklaces for everyone to wear.

“If we didn’t do it, they wouldn’t have all the things they need,” seventh-grader Kristen Hall said about fundraising for the troops. Her 24-year-old brother, Robert, will be deployed for his first time with the Army in November, although his destination is not yet known. “They need our help.”

John Adams and Livingston Park elementary schools and the high school also participated, as well as the Adams Athletic Club organization.

The advisers felt the community at large was responsive because most people can relate to a common item such as Silly String and can therefore make a connection to the war.

“The war has gone on for so long and a lot of us feel helpless here, so we raise money to protect them,” said Christine Pupino, special education teacher and co-coordinator for the fundraiser. “The death toll, as high as it is, is heartbreaking, so anything we can do to protect and keep them safe, I would think is beneficial.”

The school will send a check to Stratford in order to save money on shipping costs for the cans, which cost $1 to $3, depending on where they are purchased. Pupino said she believes a pilot volunteers to fly the cans to the troops because they cannot be sent through the regular mail overseas.

“Before, I knew Silly String was just for parties, but now I know it is for more important stuff than just playing,” seventh-grader Derek Chan said.

A display created in a hallway at the school featured items that Yauch’s relatives had acquired from previous wars, such as an Iraqi military helmet used during Saddam Hussein’s regime. There is also a Humvee replica made by Iraqi children, who constructed the model from garbage they found and “wires” taken from holes in roads created by explosives. Lyon bought it last year for a dollar, which is a way that children there make money.

There are also some Vietnam War items, such as a jacket, pants, boots and a hat brought back by Michael Lyon, Yauch’s brother-in-law, as well as a short-timer’s stick, a novelty item used during Vietnam that represented the amount of time before soldiers returned to the United States.

In another hallway, there is a giant can of Silly String with the names of the teachers who donated to the fund.

“Since my nephew is over there and there is not much to do besides send care packages, this makes me feel really good that we can do something to benefit not just him but other soldiers, other than with just the care packages,” Yauch said.

The school also has a Yellow Ribbon project, asking community members to display ribbons on their cars, houses or lapels in support of the troops. They are also trying to possibly adopt a soldier, or perhaps run the Silly String fundraiser again next year.

“We’re also hoping the war would end so we wouldn’t have to do this. We’re hoping they come home,” Pupino said.