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May 11, 2017 4:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Remsenburg-Speonk Students Stuff Soldier Care Packages Before Getting Basics Of Military Service

Lt. Col Robert Siebelts talks to students at the Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School about life as part of the ANG's 106th Rescue Wing. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
May 15, 2017 4:17 PM

After forming a single-file line, nearly 20 Remsenburg-Speonk fifth-graders began pushing empty cardboard boxes around the gymnasium of their Mill Road school, each stopping briefly only to grab an assortment of different items left in piles on tables.New socks, mixed nuts, powdered ice tea packets, Tate’s cookies, two handmade cards, as well as a dozen odds and ends—mostly donations from event sponsors Rocco A. Carriero Wealth Partners of Southampton—were all carefully placed inside the boxes before they were slid to a corner of the gym and sealed with packing tape by teachers.

In total, the students—with help from their parents, teachers and the event’s sponsors—packed 100 care packages last Thursday, May 11, that will be mailed to Long Islanders serving in the military overseas so they can have a little piece of home with them.

The students, drill participants since they were first-graders, showed their experience by making quick work of the operation, and also displayed a growing understanding of why their volunteer duties are so important.

“The troops, when they are overseas, they don’t get any happiness, and they don’t get good quality stuff sometimes,” said fifth-grader Ella Carriero, 11, who, as a first-grader, helped her father, Rocco Carriero of Remsenburg, a private wealth advisor who owns the firm, start the tradition at the elementary school.

Last Thursday marked the fifth consecutive year that members of the same class stuffed the care packages, a tradition that they plan to continue next year as sixth-graders before handing off the responsibility to their younger counterparts. In addition to the gifts, students also made thank you cards that were later placed inside the care packages.

Once the work of the students was finished, members of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, who are based at nearby Francis S. Gabreski Airport, made presentations to the entire school about what it is like serving in the military.

The tradition was founded when Ella and her younger brother, Luca, now 7, were driving with their parents and passed the Air National Guard base on Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton, and Ella asked what happens there, Mr. Carriero recalled during the presentation.

Realizing the importance of the military institution, Mr. Carriero sought to share as much information with Ella and her friends as possible, and worked with both the ANG and the school district to make last week’s interactive event a reality.

“It was difficult to explain to a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, so, rather than explain it, we wanted to show it to you,” said Mr. Carriero, who spends about $3,500 every year to buy the items and ship them overseas. “Many of you that are here today also get to drive by the air base and see the different things that are happening, and see the men and women that go to work there.

“We get to drive by the air base, and it is because of these men and women that we get to do that freely without having to worry,” he continued.

ANG Airman Carly McCulloch, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Siebelts, Major Stewart Morrison and Major Sean Boughal explained to students the importance of working as a team. They also shared some details of their missions, including a recent rescue operation in which they traveled more than 1,000 miles, via airplane and then boat, out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to provide emergency medical care after two deckhands were seriously injured in an explosion aboard a cargo ship.

Keeping with the theme of showing and not just telling, students had the opportunity to participate in various rescue activities. Some helped create a makeshift gurney from duct tape and then carried a first-grader around the gym. Others were able to handle two-way radios and try on military-grade vests and helmets.

Still, for most students, they said their favorite part of the day was stuffing the care packages, explaining that it is important to let American troops know they are not forgotten.

“Many of them don’t have stores they can go buy things,” said 11-year-old Riley Miller, a fifth-grader.

Ella noted that her father’s firm purchased all of the donations from Costco in Riverhead, adding that the chain also donated $25 toward the effort.

“The first time we did this assembly was in the month of awareness and compassion, and it was so important that we were working with those building blocks because a lot of people take for granted things that are in their own backyard,” Remsenburg-Speonk School Superintendent Dr. Ron Masera said. “We thought this was a great idea to understand what truly takes place, and to meet the local heroes in our own backyard.”

Dr. Masera added that he is proud that his second-oldest students have kept up such a worthwhile tradition.

“We put together care packages so that people who are serving overseas can see that we recognize them and we appreciate them,” he told them.

Last week’s event was extra special for Major Boughal, who explained that his unit received one of the care packages last year while deployed in the Middle East.

“It meant a lot to us when we were overseas and got that,” he said while addressing the students. “What was really extra special was the cards that each and everyone of you wrote—it really touched us.

“I really appreciated it,” he added. “It was awesome.”

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Glad to see local schools supporting a positive view of our volunteer service members, unlike the liberal bastion schools that have banned them from the premises.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on May 11, 17 6:02 PM
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