U.S. troops respond to letters from Eastside students

Published 3:07 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Students at Eastside Elementary are participating in a class exercise to show their appreciation for American troops who are overseas.
The project, which involved writing letters to American soldiers, is a collaboration between the fifth and sixth grade special education classes of Emily Iwaniuk and Diane Curry.
The project began in November around Veterans' Day. The class wanted to do something special for the U.S. military during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Iwaniuk said the students came up with the idea to write letters because of their contact with her father-in-law, Master Sergeant General Gregory Iwaniuk, who is currently stationed in Uzbekistan.
He would contact the class as often as once a week to tell them what was going on.
The letters were sent to soldiers with Iwaniuk in Uzbekistan and they have received a strong response from the troops that they contacted.
The class has received a number of emails and pictures thanking them for their support.
The troops also sent the class a certificate of appreciation and an American flag to show their gratitude.
In December, the classes made over 100 Christmas ornaments and sent them to the troops in Uzbekistan.
The class said it was important to do things like this because the soldiers may get lonely being away from home for so long.
Jordan Perkins, 11, said "we need to give the soldiers support for protecting us."
Sixth grader Jona Betts, 11, said it was important because "they might not have people to talk to."
The class has a display in the hallway outside of their class to showcase some of the letters that were written and the pictures they have received from Uzbekistan.
Iwaniuk hopes her father-in-law will be returning in May and the class is very excited to get a chance to meet him.
She said her class is looking forward to having continued correspondence with the troops for the rest of the school year.