Kurn Hattin children help the troops


WESTMINSTER >> The Kurn Hattin Homes children have discovered how to positively impact the lives of others on a global scale with the "Tip of the Spear" community service project.

"Tip of the Spear" is a national non-profit organization that seeks to bring comfort and support to military personnel who are in harm's way, serving on the front lines in hostile surroundings. These outposts, carved out in dangerous and unforgiving terrain, are located in the most remote regions of rural Afghanistan. The platoons stationed there face daily threats such as snipers, fire fights, and roadside bombs. Many of the soldiers survive on dated, pre-packaged C-rations; and have little or no access to showers, clean clothes, or utilities. Through "Tip of the Spear," local groups can form a "Boots on the Ground" chapter to sponsor a particular platoon, and commit to establishing a long-tern relationship that meets the specific needs of that platoon until they come home.

In Kennebunkport, Maine, The Village Baptist Church has a "Boots on the Ground" chapter, coordinated by parishioner John Zimmerman. The group gets together once a month to pack the items they have collected, as well as cards and letters written by children and other supporters. These items include non-perishable food and treats, toiletries, hygiene products, baby wipes, books, socks, board games, mouse traps, and hot sauce. "The C-rations are very bland," notes Zimmerman. A close friend of the Kurn Hattin staff and children, Zimmerman launched the collaboration with the residential school and home two years ago, when he asked the students to make handmade cards for the troops.

The response was so positive that the Kurn Hattin Homes children continued to write. They also began to focus on more personal initiatives: sending cards to a church member with cancer; writing letters and sending dog biscuits to the military working dog, Dumo; making videos for injured troops; and singing holiday carols. In anticipation of the Select Choir's annual spring performance at the church, the 8th grade class began a fundraising drive. The students collected change and donations on campus and presented a check for $200 to Zimmerman for more supplies, which he agreed to match. Throughout the evening, the choir sang to the troops, volunteers read letters of appreciation from the soldiers, and everyone gathered together to pack the boxes.

"This is very special," said Kurn Hattin Residential Director, Karen Lansberry. "When the kids heard how much their letters meant to these men and women, I think they really understood the impact that they had on the lives of others.

The event was so moving and successful, that Zimmerman will be coming to visit Kurn Hattin Homes in May for a special packing session of locally purchased items. According to Zimmerman, each shipment provides approximately $3,000 worth of goods.

Established in 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Vermont is a charitable, year-round home and school for boys and girls, ages 6 to 15, who are affected by tragedy and social or economic hardship. Kurn Hattin Homes transforms the lives of children and their families forever. www.kurnhattin.org.

Lisa Bloch is Kurn Hattin's Assistant Director of Development. She can be contacted at lbloch@kurnhattin.org.


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