LUTZ – Most of the students at Martinez Middle School are pretty sure they will wake up on Christmas morning with plenty of gifts under the tree, in a warm household surrounded by their family. However, for some, the days leading up to the holidays are consumed by thoughts of others halfway across the world.
Martinez National Junior Honor Society are holding “Operation Patriot,” a program designed to provide toiletries and other necessities to those who are serving the country in the U.S. military. It is in cooperation with Metropolitan Ministries.
Sure, the students know they might be helping out with the simple things – toothpaste or shaving cream and such – for men and woman who will be spending their holidays far away from their families.
“It means a lot,” said eighth-grader Mica Jadick. “It is traumatic for their families and I don’t know how they do it. The veterans do so much, it’s up to us to help them in return.”
Craft supplies are also popular gifts to send to the troops.
Mica said she was really moved at an assembly that Martinez held last month for Veterans Day. Kids showed up to school with their parents and the veterans were asked to stand along with the students. More than 30 of them stood.
“That’s when it really hit me,” Mica said. “To see the veterans stand up and to see so many of them at my school, that really hit me.”
Sixth-grader Avery Bell said that he’s learning a lot about what is going on overseas and hopes to hear back from some of the troops.
“We have to appreciate what we have because they are going to be lonely at the holidays,” Avery said.
Seventh-grader Olivia Dailey said she feels sorry for the troops who are without their children and spouses.
“I don’t know a lot about what’s going on, but I know the troops are lonely and need our support. We are lucky to be home for the holidays but they aren’t as lucky, but they are defending our freedom and this is a good way to show our appreciation.”
The students at Martinez are also working on a Secret Santa program to donate presents to Goodwill. Mica said she donates some of the presents she doesn’t really need to her church and Olivia said she does the same thing.
“I always like what I get for Christmas but sometimes I don’t really need it, so I ask if I can donate it. That’s what the holidays are all about.’’