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Girl Scout Gold Award

Congratulations to Gabriella Manetta on acheiving her Girl Scout Gold Award! Gabriella’s project consisted of collecting supplies, shipping packages and hosting a movie night all in support of our troops. Her goal was to bring awareness to the community about A.R.M.S. and how they support and provide assistance to military families and to give thanks for all the many hardships and sacrifices that they and their families endure.

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McKinley Elementary School

We (Phyllis Buongiorno, Lucille Centonze-Springer, Maureen Tomsick, Ken Springer and myself) just returned from McKinley Elementary School in Manahawkin, NJ. McKinley Elementary School is the school that presented A.R.M.S. with a $10,000 check collected by the students for “Make A Difference Day” in October 2011.

The school was holding a Pep Rally just before the NJ testing began. A.R.M.S. was first on the agenda. We received a very warm reception by the students and faculty and they were so happy and excited to receive a flag that was flown over Afghanistan especially for them.

I was the M.C. and Ken presented the flag to the McKinley Elementary School principal, Mrs. Hoffman. I can’t say enough about this school.The staff is phenominal and the students are wonderful. I will volunteer for anything that this school ever does.

The 3rd grade class had previously received an American flag, Afghan money, maps and a letter from MSgt. Gary “Hagar” Parker – U.S. Aircraft Maintenance, whose daughter attended McKinley Elementary School and just graduated from Penn State University. The items sent by MSgt. Parker were displayed in a showcase in the lobby of the school.

Additionally, they had letters the school received from Corp. Mark Behmer – USMC and Sgt. Henes – USMC proudly exhibited in the same case. The A.R.M.S. flag will be placed in this showcase and the flag that is currently there will be removed and hung in the gym.

It’s days like these that make me happy that I volunteer for such a worthy organization like A.R.M.S. and proud to be an American!!!

Photos are attached.

Elena Mahoney
A.R.M.S. Secretary

Dear Ronnie,

I just wanted to let you know I completed my Final Eagle Board of Review last night and i attained the Rank of Eagle Scout! It was truly a pleasure to have the opppurtunity to work with ARMS. I learned a lot from this experience and truly appreciate all of the help you and the other members of ARMS gave me along the way. I plan on having my Court of Honor Saturday, June 2nd. I haven’t confirmed the date yet and I will send you a formal invitation in the mail. I really hope you and other members of ARMS are able to come. Thank again! Hope all is well with you and your family.

Kevin McNamara

Applegate Elementary School

This morning March 30, 2012 we had the privilege of meeting with the entire Applegate Elementary School in Freehold and collecting their donations. Each class gathered in their grade (pod) area and brought their donations and notes to A.R.M.S. volunteers who were on hand to answer all their questions. The students were excited and enthusiastic and collected three car loads of packages for us to send to the troops. Not only did the school participate magnificently but so did the PTO in donating $200 dollars. The morning was a true delight and the children came up with so many good questions that it was hard to leave.

The school had a full assembly on Wednesday with the Colts Neck High School junior ROTC drill team which was enthusiastically well received as was the A.R.M.S. presentation given by Bill Gray….. everyone was most appreciative of his participation and complimented Bill on his delivery. Thank you Bill!

Today would not have been possible without the assistance of Phyllis and Frank, Marilyn and Hank and Lucille, who were on hand to thank all the students from kindergarten to 5th grade, interacting and answering all their questions, shaking hands and packing and lugging boxes to the Armory. Thanks to all!! Applegate School has taken up a collection for A.R.M.S. for the past three years and they have repeatedly called upon us each to partner with them.

We make a good team! Every March they set aside as “March for the Military” month and they come through for us fantastically. Although March is set aside for the Military we dubbed today as “Make a Difference Day” because their donations will in fact make a big difference in the lives of so many men and women in uniform, for which they should be very proud!

Again thanks to all!

Don’t be fooled by claims that our Soldiers are coming home!

Although this is the prevailing notion it is a widely mistaken misconception, in fact our military men and women serving abroad are not coming home! Indeed our troops are no longer in Iraq, but they are not coming home! They are simply repositioning and redeploying to places like Kuwait and Afghanistan, and the fact of the matter is we still have a significant military presence in Kyrgyzstan, and Bahrain, as well as Kosovo and Korea.

Unfortunately this misconception is affecting nonprofit charitable organizations like American Recreational Military Services (A.R.M.S) who have been serving the troops and their families since 2003. Donations have been dwindling and along with many organizations we are feeling the pinch. As a result the troops need our help more than ever. Our goal is to raise public awareness, and more importantly much needed funding in order to continue sending “Care Packages” to our men and women over there.

Elementary Students Collecting Supplies for Troops Abroad

Students at Manchester Township Elementary School are leading the charge to collect supplies for troops serving overseas.

Representatives from American Recreational Military Services visited a school assembly on Monday to ask students to donate items that may not be readily available at bases abroad, including snacks, sunscreen, shaving cream and books.

“We’re sending them a little bit of hope, a little bit of home,” said Ken Springer, an A.R.M.S. representative. “I ask the kids to think outside the box, to put themselves in their shoes.”

In 2011, over 2,500 packages were shipped by A.R.M.S. at a cost of $30,000. As a nonprofit volunteer organization, the goods and funding come from public contributions.

“We have to do a lot of fundraising,” said A.R.M.S. representative Bill Gray. “A majority of the people think that these items are shipped by the military, and they’re not. We ship the items through regular mail.”

Students are also asked to write letters to include with the packages. Springer, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1960s, also includes a letter with each package sent asking troops to get in touch with him through email so they can get an idea of the supplies needed.

MTES students were recognized for writing 600 cards that were sent to soldiers abroad in 2011. The A.R.M.S. collection drive is their next initiative, said principal Marge Stevens.

“Now we have a new challenge — to support our troops.” Showing those back home care “makes all the difference in the world,” Stevens said.

A.R.M.S. became involved with Manchester schools following the death of Marine Cpl. Nicholas Ott, a Manchester Township High School graduate, in the summer of 2011. The organization contacted Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway and coordinated the creation of care packages to be sent to his unit.

“I got letters from their mothers talking about how it built their morale,” Springer said.

In addition to boosting morale, care packages can also help soldiers stay safe. One service member told Springer through email that he wanted Silly String. The request wasn’t for fun — it was so troops could spray doorways in search for trip wires.

“That was all we needed to know. We went out and bought boxes of Silly String and every shipment went out that week with it,” Springer said.

A.R.M.S. was formed in 2001 and became more active in 2005, said Gray, who was an Army National Guard Reservist in the 1960s. Items are shipped weekly from the National Guard Armory in Toms River, he said.

Stevens said that her students — many of whom wore red, white and blue for the occasion — will again show their support for the community.

“I’m so proud of them,” she said. “They have such big hearts.”

A collection box will be placed in each MTES classroom for the remainder of March; those from the community are welcome to visit the school to make a donation, Stevens said.