BORDENTOWN: Kids Care gathers items for troops

By Geoffrey Wertime, Staff Writer
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP — Although they’re thousands of miles away, seven men in the armed forces are not far from the hearts or minds of their friends and family at the Peter Muschal School.
    Up to 100 people were expected to volunteer at the school Wednesday night, writing letters and putting donated items together in care packages for the servicemen as part of the program PMS Kids Care.
    “All seven (men) this year are in Iraq, and they’re all in the various armed services,” said Kids Care committee head Laura Schenck. The beneficiaries, who are all fathers or uncles of students, are primarily in the Army, but she said there are also others in the Marines, the Air Force, and the National Guard.
    Anyone connected to the school — including students, teachers, and administrators — was invited to help out, splitting up the donations onto seven different tables. Each table was expected to display a photo of the serviceman with his name and division.
    Writing and drawing materials and paper were provided so those present could write letters and draw pictures to include in the packages. Representatives from Fort Dix were also expected to attend to come talk with the children, according to Ms. Schenck.
    “This year we’ve had our largest group of soldiers yet,” she said, “so we’ll divide all of our supplies into seven (portions), and then in turn they’ll distribute them among the men and women in his unit.”
    Throughout the month, students and their families were asked to bring in one food item and one other item, both of which were assigned by class.
    “These are just guidelines,” Ms. Schenck noted. “They can actually send anything they think the soldiers would like.”
    The goal of the program, according to Principal Ed Chmiel, is “to make lives of soldiers a little better.” He credited the PTA with getting the program started, and said beneficiaries from past years and their families have written letters of thanks and visited the school.
    In addition to physical goods, the school has been seeking cash donations of a few dollars. With a $300 gift from the American Legion, Ms. Schenck said Wednesday morning the school had already raised $600, and expected more when everyone was to come together that evening. The money will go to phone cards, with which PMS Kids Care will surprise the troops a few weeks before Christmas.
    In the past, the school has used the cash donations to ship the packages, but this year Fort Dix will be moving the goods.