Plenty of treats for our troops

Las Animas Elementary School students pose for a photo in front

In one of his sketches, comedian Jerry Seinfeld said the single,
continuous thought running through his head as a young child was,
“Get candy. Get candy. Get candy.”
In one of his sketches, comedian Jerry Seinfeld said the single, continuous thought running through his head as a young child was, “Get candy. Get candy. Get candy.”
Whether that rings true for students at Las Animas Elementary School, one thing’s for sure: They’ve got no qualms about sharing their goodies for a good cause.
“I only had two pieces (of candy) left,” said 9-year-old Audrey Hudson, a third-grader who “donated a bag THIS big” – about 2 or 3 pounds – to the first Treats For Troops drive held at her school.
Hudson is one of 761 Las Animas students who contributed to the 554.5 pounds of Halloween candy collected Nov. 1 through to Nov. 14. The sweet stash was ceremoniously bequeathed to Staff Sgt. Chad Janssen – who works out of the U.S. Army recruitment office in Gilroy – during two separate assemblies Monday afternoon in the school’s multipurpose room, which smelled of Skittles.
“Can you believe that?” said Las Animas Principal Silvia Reyes, standing in front of colorful bins stacked in a small tower. “That’s 550 pounds of candy that is not in our bellies.”
The treats, along with 761 handwritten letters from Las Animas students, will be sent to troops overseas through Operation Interdependence.
The organization, which has a local chapter in Gilroy, is a national volunteer-based program with a civilian-to-military delivery system that sends quart-sized bags filled with treats, toiletries and handwritten letters to troops stationed in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
“When we send them candy, it makes them happy,” said parent Patty Gutierrez, who spoke during the assembly.
She clutched a portrait of her late husband, David Gutierrez.
The Gutierrez family, which includes Patty, 38; and her three sons Andrew, 13; Jeremiah, 7; and Gabriel, 5; lost a husband and father Christmas Day 2009 in Afghanistan to a hidden roadside bomb.
Both Gabriel and Jeremiah attend Las Animas.
Diana Torres, a Las Animas parent volunteer who initiated “Treats for Troops,” said the students’ willingness to give up their sweets – many donated more than half – was amazing.
“I thought we would get the really stinky stuff,” she laughed, “but the really good candy is in there.”
Her son and protégé, 10-year-old Alexander Torres, admitted sacrificing his candy took “courage.”
“But I feel good about,” he said.

Operation Interdependence is a nonprofit organization thataccepts tax deductible donations. You can mail donations to 2830North Ave., Suite C5B – PMB 147, Grand Junction, CO 81501-5367 orgo to www.oidelivers.org to find out more about sending letters totroops and their adopt-a-box program.

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