D.A.R.E. Kids Answer the Call for Help
When Beaufort Elementary students were challenged to help veterans, they went beyond the call of duty and shattered a record along the way.
Fifth-grade D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) students at the school got a taste of service leadership with a record-breaking drive when they collected 23,159 food and care items to help veterans in need through the D.A.R.E. Kids for Vets collection. Additionally, $2,443 in cash donations were collected.
The students were inspired by D.A.R.E. officer Deputy Charlie Herwig of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, who saw the need to help those at veterans homes. The students collected toothbrushes, combs, denture cleaner, foot powder, hats, gloves, band-aids, soaps, canned goods, nonperishable food items and more.
“We collected supplies for homeless veterans because Deputy Herwig challenged us to bring in goods to help those in need,” Karson Eads told the school board at the November meeting. “We call this service leadership.”
Beaufort Elementary competed against five other elementary schools this fall in the D.A.R.E. Kids for Vets collection, including Robertsville, Nike, New Haven, New Haven R-2 and St. John’s-Gildehaus.
The previous record, held by Crosspoint Christian School, was 12,500 items.
According to Deputy Herwig, the competition was among schools that had D.A.R.E. classes in the fall semester. Another drive will be held among other school in the spring.
The competition is based on the number of personal care and food items collected per student. Collections ran from the end of September through Veterans Day at the area schools. Students collected items at school, area banks, churches, the American Legion, grocery stores and other businesses.
Herwig is an Iraqi war veteran. He kicked off the food challenge five years ago.
“When I got back from Iraq, I wanted a way to give back and it has come to be a massive program,” he said.
“I learned a few years ago to never try to guess what would happen,” Herwig added. “These kids always have gone above and beyond. It is insane every year how much effort the kids put into this.”
Beaufort’s three fifth-grade classes taught by Karen Brinkmann, Kimberly Godar and Becky McDuffie (who is a long-term sub for Jennifer Kelley), worked together to collect items and cash.
“We thought we were doing great with 7,000 items five years ago,” said Brinkmann. “I am so proud of our kids. They showed that they have big hearts and are willing to help those in need.”
“I am truly touched by the compassion the kids have for veterans in need,” added Godar.
The Beaufort teachers said the lessons learned by this drive affected more than those in the school.
“Our students are inspiring not only the school, but the entire community,” said McDuffie.
“I am extremely proud of the character that our students have shown during this challenge,” added Jennifer Kelley. “They’ve shown at a young age that they are not just concerned about themselves, but are able to see that there are people in need and actively sought out ways to help others.”
Students will have the opportunity to deliver all 30,000 items collected to the St. Clair VFW Thursday, Dec. 15. They will receive a pizza lunch, sponsored by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and students will visit the National Guard Armory in St. Clair.
They also will visit a veterans home.
We were proactive by helping others,” Sammy Monzyk said. “This changed how we see people in need because some people have injuries from helping us so we don’t judge them. We give more respect to our veterans and other people. They served us, and now we are taking back that responsibility and serving them.”
Students received a standing ovation from the school board for their efforts.
Union Missourian Editor Gregg Jones and Missourian Staff Writer Karen Butterfield contributed to this story.
This article was originally published on emissourian.