New York school provides supplies to students in Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Ryan Sheldon
117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment (Hawaii)
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Nov. 16, 2012) – How far did school supplies travel from New York to Afghanistan? Approximately 7,800 miles. That distance may seem far for some people, but for a school located 70 miles south of Syracuse, N.Y., it was right around the corner.
Teachers at Windsor Central High School first learned of a need for basic school supplies after receiving a request for materials from Sgt. Andrew Brechko, an intelligence analyst with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Brechko, a teacher at the school, is deployed with the New York Army National Guard in the Spin Boldak area of Afghanistan.
“I made a poster here in Afghanistan and I sent it back to my school,” said Brechko, “The poster was presented at a faculty meeting at Windsor Central and the idea went from there.”
Donations of school supplies were gathered from the community and school at several different locations and then amassed at a central location. After two weeks of collecting supplies, two central drop locations were established so more students could pack the supplies.
Students in Afghanistan’s Spin Boldak district also received 30 new backpacks purchased by the Future Business Leaders of America, a club at Windsor Central High.
“When the goods came in, they were sorted for patriotic, religious themes,” Brechko said. “The products were sorted so it wouldn’t put the students and teachers in Afghanistan at risk.”
Using American patriotic-themed products in Afghanistan can put students and teachers at risk of being targeted by the Taliban.
The students made sure to evenly distribute the materials such as pencils and paper.
“They tried to make sure they packed a variety of school supplies in each box with the thought that each box would be going to a different teacher,” Brechko said. “Paper and writing utensils were the majority of the products in each box.”
While packaging the supplies, the students learned the importance of their donations.
“The students packing the boxes were taught how appreciative they should be,” Brechko said. “The difference between a student in the U.S. and a student in Afghanistan is how much a little item they take for granted could mean the world for another.”
Brechko hoped the Central High students walked away from the experience with the knowledge and realization that many students in the world are not as fortunate as American students.
“I wanted the students at Windsor Central High School to gain some perspective as to how lucky they are,” Brechko said. “[They are] lucky with their education system and what supplies they have. It’s an appreciative perspective.
Overall, the students of Windsor Central High School sent Afghan students a total of 70-75 boxes of basic school supplies that have the potential to influence a child to become a doctor, lawyer, politician or a teacher.
“The items were dropped off at the Spin Boldak district center,” Brechko said. “My hopes are that these supplies get distributed to all the outlying schools that are in the Spin Boldak district. It was a simple and idealistic project that came to fruition.”