By Jim Newell
Thanks to a joint effort from area students, soldiers serving in harm’s way overseas will receive 83 Miracle Boxes – care packages – filled with supplies and gratitude.
Middle school students at St. Joseph’s School in Lake Orion collected items and packed the boxes on March 25. Each box contained a variety of goods – toiletries, snacks, candy, Ramon Noodles, protein and fruit bars, stuffed animals and other goods.
Each box also had a letter or handmade card thanking the soldiers for their service – a little love a half a world away.
Students from Lake Orion High School’s National Honor Society collected two truckloads of goods to donate to the effort, said Louise Downs Blain founder of Desert Angels ministry, the nonprofit group that is mailing the boxes.
Nicole Spengler, a 7th grade student at St. Joe’s, organized the Miracle Box packing party at the school as part of her Girl Scout’s Silver Award.
“I’ve done packing parties with my Girl Scout Troop 74459, with my family and I wanted to do one at my school,” Spengler said, adding a dozen students showed up to help for the packing party. “It’s something they can do to help out with their community. Something they can do to show their appreciation to the soldiers.”
“It’s fun. It’s nice because it’s at my school. It’s nice that Nicole set this up. It must be hard over there when you’re deployed,” said Alexandra Spevetz, an eighth grader at St. Joe’s, who packed her boxes for the soldiers with fun stuff, “to give them a little happiness.”
Desert Angels mails 100-200 boxes each month to troops overseas. Each box costs about $17 to mail. Only one percent of the population currently serves in the military.
The school still needs to raise $996 for postage. Donations can be sent to Trish Spengler’s attention at St. Joseph’s School, 715 N. Lapeer Road, Lake Orion, MI 48362.
“We are a ministry. We believe in god, country, freedom,” Downs said. “How do we get money for postage? God provides. We don’t get government funding. We don’t get grants. We provide by faith.”
The Miracle Boxes are named after PFC Joseph A. Miracle, a Brandon High School graduate who was killed in action July 5, 2007.
Blain said she was overjoyed at the amount that Lake Orion and St. Joe’s donated. She said they would use the excess supplies at other Miracle Box packings in Oakland County.
Julia Hawley, an 11th grade student at Lake Orion High School, and her NHS classmates held a community-wide “Armed Forces Drive” in the Lake Orion school district last month.
“I and my National Honor Society service group have organized a project with Lake Orion middle and elementary schools to collect various supplies and donations for soldiers overseas,” Hawley said.
NHS Armed Forces Drive group members are Emma McWilliams, Rachel Yim, Alexa Titus, Sarah VanRooyen, Izzy Regmont and Cassie Moreau.
“The reason we decided to run this drive is because I personally have family members currently serving and my group and I all really appreciate the U.S. Military. We decided if we could get community support on such a great cause, and incorporate students, teachers, and parents, all the better,” Hawley said. “We plan to donate the supplies to Desert Angels, a non-profit organization that sends care packages, or as they call them “Miracle Boxes” to our armed forces overseas.”
Lake Orion students collected various supplies: wet wipes, chap stick, granola bars, energy bars, sun screen, socks, dried fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds, small games and etc. Students also donated numerous thank you letters.