BAE Systems, MooreMart and Hudson Schools Unite to Support Troops in Iraq
by Maureen Gillum
Each year, the Nashua division of BAE Systems, the transatlantic aerospace and defense company, selects a community service project to rally their employee volunteer efforts. This year, it decided to make up 500 care packages to send to U. S. troops in Iraq.
“Our A Force of One 2006 community service project seemed to be a natural fit for us,” reported BAE test design engineer and Hudson resident, Ron Routhier. “BAE builds the equipment that helps protect our troops, while our service men and women help keep us safe.”
Routhier detailed that each of the 500 shirt box-sized holiday care packages includes a stocking with goodies, toiletries, and food items. In addition, a key part of each package is the “extra personal touch,” provided by hundreds of Hudson elementary school children. “While the supplies and gifts are great,” the BAE engineer emphasized, “it is the handmade cards and personal letters that the Hudson elementary school students from Nottingham West, Dr. H. O Smith, and Library Street schools that I know our troops will most appreciate.”
Having served 15 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Routhier acknowledged he “spent far too many holidays apart from his family” and shared, “I know just how they’re going to feel being away from home over the holidays.” He well remembers feeling “very alone and sad while walking guard duty one Christmas Eve thousands of miles from home.”
By all accounts, the participation of several Hudson elementary schools was beneficial and enthusiastic. “Our teachers were very excited about the project as it gave them an opportunity to talk about the situation in Iraq,” explained Emilie Carter, Assistant Principal at Dr. H. O. Smith and Library Street schools. “The outpouring from our kids was also wonderful and heartfelt.”
When asked what they wanted to tell the troops, LSS second graders were quick to respond with some poignant messages. “I just want to tell them that we love them, sincerely expressed Stephen Sanger, “and thank them for keeping us safe.” Brittany Livingston added, “Thank you for fighting for our country.” Last but not least, Franklin Roark, added “Merry Christmas and please come home safe,” with a broad smile … and a few missing teeth.
Nottingham West fourth graders echoed similar sentiments. A ‘fellow American’ Nicholas’ letter stated, “Your job is very important; thank you for protecting me and everyone else.” Chad from Room 202 thanked the soldiers for “being so brave.”
“We always encourage partnerships with community businesses,” stressed Peter Durso, Principal of Nottingham West Elementary School, “It strengthens our school, and gives students a realistic view of the world beyond the classroom setting.”
“Education is most powerful when we meaningfully link activities to what is going on in the world and show kids they have a direct impact,” Carter added thoughtfully. She concluded, “It just gives me goose bumps to think these cards our students write will end up in the hands -- and hearts -- of our soldiers overseas.”
Routhier also stressed that the project was also a “great collaborative effort” far beyond BAE and the local Hudson schools. The project also involves the American Legion, U. S. O., local church groups and civic organizations. In particular, Routhier cited one Nashua-based on-going volunteer effort – MooreMart -- that BAE is working with which has done “an outstanding job in supporting U. S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last three years, as well as regional village children.”
As the Hudson~Litchfield News recently reported, MooreMart began as Nashua Attorney Paul Moore, and his sister, Carole Moore Biggio began sending packages to support their brother, Brian, a former Nashua Christian Academy teacher and New Hampshire National Guard Staff Sergeant stationed in Iraq in 2003. Their parents, Ray and Bev Moore, longtime residents of Litchfield, and the rest of the family soon jumped in. USCG Chief Raymond Moore, 78, was also acknowledged in Nashua’s Veterans Day Parade a few weeks ago, as were his children, Paul and Carole, as recipients of the Distinguished Service Award (see Hudson~Litchfield News, 11-17-06, pages 5 and 9) for their untiring MooreMart work.
Today, MooreMart has grown to become a major community-wide effort and clearing house currently shipping up to 500 packages to troops stationed in the Middle East every month. Packages contain a few comforts of home – from cheese doodles, coffee, beef jerky, Advil, sunscreen, toiletries, foot powder, and all the fixin’s for S’Mores to games, books, T-shirts, and Frisbees. Beyond party lines, MooreMart exists to show support and appreciation to U. S. troops deployed overseas and lets them know they’re not forgotten.
Contact MooreMart (www.mooremart.org, 888-9030) to make a donation, write a note, or add a soldier (name and APO address) to their support list. Since “one shipment of roughly 30 large boxes costs about $2,000 to ship,” according to Moore Mart and they “expect to ship more than 1,200 packages in December alone,” monetary donations to help pay for postage or supplies are encouraged.
Given it’s Thanksgiving week, another easy way to send a personal thank you to those serving in the military, is via www.LetsSayThanks.com, sponsored by Xerox Corporation. The site easily allows you to select a card, sign your name and hometown, and Xerox will mail off your postcard to U. S. servicemen and women deployed overseas. At the same Website, hit “from the troops” and take a few minutes to watch a slideshow and listen to On My Watch Tonight, which has fast become the new ad hoc anthem of U. S. troops.
“There is a promise I need you to make. While I’m gone you take care of the love and I’ll deal with the hate. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright. Just care for your children and sleep tight. I’ll keep you safe … on my watch tonight.”
Mike Corrado, Marine and Musician, Camp Fallujah, Iraq
In this season of thanks, take a minute to express your gratitude to the millions of U. S. servicemen and women, past and present, who have and continue to keep America free and safe.
NWES Opens New Playground with Emphasis on Community Support and Recycling
by Maureen Gillum
The Nottingham West Elementary School’s playground dedication was a festive event on a blessedly mild and clear afternoon last Wednesday, November 15. The 45-minute ceremony, which formally introduced the two playground areas and drew a crowd of more than 1,000, was colorfully emceed by NWES’ dynamic duo, Principal Peter Durso and Assistant Principal Bonnie Jean Kuras.
“With the help and support of the entire community – parents, students, staff, local businesses, and the town - the NWES PTO Playground Committee, championed by Laura Bisson and Patty Regan, amazingly raised more than $68,000 in less than a year to fund this awesome project,” Durso proudly stated. He detailed this included a generous $22,000 grant from the Hillsborough County and Depart of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and a big-hearted $1,000 donation from Partnership for After School Education. “This is proof when you work together as a team,” Durso emphasized, “absolutely anything is possible.”
“It just doesn’t get any better than this,” Hudson School Superintendent, Randy Bell, enthusiastically shared off-line with a warm smile. “This has been a huge community effort that has been thrilling to watch over the last year and has brought out the real heart and soul of this community.” To the students, Bell stressed, “Please remember what all these people have done for you and know that when you grow up it will be your turn to contribute to the next generation.”
While lots of adults, parents and even a few town dignitaries attended, “the focal point of today’s ceremony, like the focus of the project from the start was always kept where it should be -- on our NWES kids,” commented Patty Regan, NWES PTO Playground Committee Co-Chair.
As such, nearly all 800 of Nottingham West students actively participated through songs (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse by Mrs. Troup’s fifth grade class); a thoughtful original poem (written and read by fifth grader, Christina Guessford’s Something Not to Forget); a special thank you presentation for the PTO (from NWES’ third grade class) and representative time capsule contributions (from class photos to owl pellets) from every grade level.
“It looks so cool and fun,” enthusiastically beamed NWES fourth grader, Dominique Kaempf, “I’m also excited because they used recycled stuff to build this so it helps the environment, too.”
“As the new playground is made from 85 percent recycled material, we chose our playground dedication day (November 15) to be on National Recycling Day,” explained Laura Bisson, NWES Playground Committee Co-Chair and PTO Co-President. “We also selected Premier Park and Play as our playground vendor,” she added. “They best tied into Nottingham West’s long-term commitment to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle by using recycled milk jugs in their materials.”
Disappointingly, after hundreds of collective volunteer hours invested in the project, Bisson missed the playground opening. “Laura not being here because of sudden family emergency is the only cloud on this amazing day for Nottingham West,” shared Jill Rosier, NWES PTO Co-President, “But she is being true to her ultimate first priority as a mom.” Bisson was also recently honored at the NHPIE’s Blue Ribbon Awards as New Hampshire’s “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 2005 - 2006” (see Hudson~Litchfield News, 10-27-06, page 1).
Premier Park and Play’s project manager, Doug Knotts also offered some recycling facts at the ceremony. “NWES’ larger playground structure out back is made up of 32,824 milk jugs,” he detailed, “while the side structure is composed of more than 5,200 milk jugs.” Knotts also commended Hudson for their “way above average community support.”
The culmination of the ceremony was the ribbon cutting, performed by representatives of three major communities. While Bell represented the school community, Regan stood in for NWES’ parents. Tyler Lavoie, a NWES fifth grader, was selected to represent the student body. “This is pretty cool,” shared Tyler as he cut the red ribbon with a big grin. “I was really thankful I was chosen to represent my school.”
“So many people went so above and beyond for this project,” gushed Kuras. “We often see our PTO moms help out, but this was a great opportunity to get our dads involved, too.” She described the installation and final landscaping process as “an amazing three-day transformation” the first weekend in November. More than 100 volunteers, mostly from NWES PTO and the “Fidelity Cares” community service group were “tireless workhorses” for the project.
Many others contributed greatly throughout the project, including Jeff Ferrentino and Hudson Highway Department, Ripaldi Construction, Countrybrook Farms Nursery, Sousa Realty and Development, Kiwanis Club, and many others too numerous to mention. “It was truly uplifting to be a part of such community dedication and such a labor of love,” concluded Kuras sincerely.
“From all the children at Nottingham West Elementary School and the NWES Playground Committee, we sincerely thank you all,” shared Regan and Bisson, “without the incredible support of the students, parents, staff and Hudson community, the reality of this awesome undertaking would not be realized so soon.”
“The NWES PTO, with the project leadership of Laura and Patty, did an incredible job to pull all this off,” Selectmen Ken Massey commented good naturedly, “This is a good example of what this community is all about – dedicated people working together - and why its fun to live in Hudson.”
Class Act’s Interactive Dinner Theater Offers Medieval Fun
by Maureen Gillum
Alvirne High School’s Drama Club, Class Act, proudly presented a fun evening of dinner theater, A Knight in Prince William’s Court, to the delight of several hundred at the AHS palace (gym) on November 11. “This was the second annual production of Class Act’s medieval interactive dinner theater,” explained Jennifer LaFrance, Class Act Adviser, enthusiastically. “The entire 14-scene show was written, directed, and performed by the student cast and crew; they did a great job.”
In between double-stage acts and amid a full-course banquet catered by Boston Market, improvisational entertainment was performed by dozens of cast members meandering through the tables. Medieval royalty, juggling jesters, singing minstrels, regents, monks, ladies, pirates, flower girls, and lots more, kept in full character and elaborate period costumes as they bantered and ate with the audience. There was even a sheriff handing out violations to those ‘capturing souls’ (taking pictures) and a gargoyle that performed as a tableau or living statue. While young knights and princesses were invited to participate in jousting matches and dancing, their elders faced trial at the hands of Morty the Malevolent.
“These kids are amazing -- the set, costumes, and all the many extras were terrific,” exclaimed one audience member. “The night was a lot of fun and thoroughly entertaining!”
“Improvisation is never easy,” proudly shared AHS Senior, Marni Balint, who aptly directed the massive and successful production, “The cast and crew were extremely supportive of each other, even through cast changes, extensive rehearsals, and random mishaps.” Marni also extended Class Act’s special thanks to Lizzette Estrada, Jamie Balint, Jen LaFrance and others for their untiring support, along with many generous local businesses that helped to make the event such a success.
What’s next on the Alvirne stage? Class Act promises to help get everyone into the full Dickensonian spirit of the season with A Christmas Carol, on Friday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 16 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Contact an AHS Class Act member or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
Class Act 1:
Photo Caption – Wild Turkeys
Photo courtesy of Jeanne Elliott