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Care packages headed to Afghanistan
Sergeant’s wife, son at Mashburn
troop box 3 jd
Mashburn Elementary School students, from left, Brianna Reynolds, Emma Gore, Ashley Maryansui and Abby Gerwit fill a box to be sent overseas to soldiers serving in Afghanistan. - photo by Jim Dean
Four fifth-graders at Mashburn Elementary School piled snack foods and hygiene items into a box.

“Can this one fit right there?” Abby Gerwit asked, trying to wedge a pack of baby wipes along the side.

“If it fits, it ships,” she added, quoting a TV commercial with a smile.

The 21 boxes needed to be full, since they’ll be traveling to Afghanistan to provide the troops in Sgt. Chris Jensen’s unit with some goodies and necessities from home.

Jensen is the husband of Mashburn third-grade teacher Helen Jensen and father of fifth-grader Dillon.

The two third- and fifth-grade classes gathered Friday afternoon to pack up the schoolwide donations.

The school is also sending thank-you cards and posters that students in eight classes made for the 175-person unit.

Helen Jensen said her students enjoyed giving a “personal touch” in their cards and care packages, including sending Silly Bands, a popular children’s bracelet, to the troops.

“The kids loved it and my husband appreciates it very much,” she said. “I think it helps the soldiers know that people back home support them.”

Sgt. Jensen is serving his third term overseas, having been gone for much of his son’s first-, third- and fifth-grade years.

“I would think it would be easier the more it happens, but it’s gotten harder,” she said. “But he loves doing what he does and that’s why he does it.”

Dillon Jensen’s father will return in August. Until then, he can chat with him by video online.

The fifth-grader said his card thanked the soldiers for supporting the country and mentioned that he has a father in the military. He didn’t make it out to his dad because the project was for the unit.

“It’s pretty cool,” Dillon Jensen said of his classmates’ help, adding that he didn’t expect to see so much response.

Pam Sherlock, mother of a student in Helen Jensen’s class, organized the drive, which asked students to donate money and items.

Sgt. Jensen had visited Mashburn in between his terms of service, Sherlock said.

“I thought we needed to give something back to him,” she said.

The drive collected $271, which Sherlock said could cover the costs of shipping, which range from about $8 to $10 per box.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has volunteered to help send the packages, she said.

Third-grader Martha Zellmann said she was sure to put a lot of candy in the box she filled with classmate Bella Condo.

They want the soldiers to be surprised, Zellmann said, and realize that the students “must care about us.”