By Michelle Reese

GSN Guest Writer


Students at San Tan Elementary in Higley colored postal boxes for Boots in the House’s Care Package For Heroes – Holiday Cheer 2018 campaign.

Stacey Totman, first-grade teacher, said that the event sparked classroom discussions on the importance of honoring our veterans and current service members.

“We talked about what it means to sacrifice and what the men and women in service do, how they sacrifice every day and what their job is,” Totman said. “They were really excited to be able to have the opportunity to do something nice for the men and women who sacrifice so much for us.”

Boots in the House founder Jamie Sistek said that many of the packages the students at San Tan colored already have a final destination. Many will be sent to Afghanistan, but some may find its way to Kuwait, Niger, Djibouti and some undisclosed locations.

“We do a lot of things for our service members, past, present and future, but the biggest thing we spend the most time on is sending care packages to troops that are deployed in hostile locations,” Sistek said.

Christine Omitt, Boots in the House secretary, said that letters and cards that they receive, including those written by the elementary students, are always placed at the top of the package so that it is the first thing military men and women see.

“All the feedback that we get from the troops, they just enjoy and look forward to the drawings and cards from the boxes,” Omitt said.

She said also included in these boxes will be instant-snow kits that will give the recipients the opportunity to have a snowy holiday – or a snowball fight – wherever they are.

Jennifer Zaur, mother of four and secretary of San Tan Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, was a key contributor in organizing the service opportunity between the charity group and the school.

After Sistek made a Facebook shout-out on a local Gilbert group page for service volunteers, Zaur reached out to see how her students could assist.

“We were talking about what would be a good way to bring out some of the ‘leader in me’ qualities of San Tan,” Zaur said. “We hope to achieve a sense of awareness for the kids that we can give back to the community in positive ways. And something as simple as writing a letter or coloring a box makes someone’s day happy.”