Red Bank students send stockings of sweets to troops in Middle East

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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R
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PHOTO COURTESY OF: LISA BOYLE/ R

By KAREN RAPOLLA
Staff Writer

Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) Spanish teacher Lisa Boyle and her Spanish National Honor Society (NHS) students, together with RBR French teacher Gil Thomas’ French NHS students, joyfully rallied together to stuff stockings filled with sweets to send overseas to troops in the Middle East.

Boyle, an advisor, has been coordinating this effort every year for about 10 years with other clubs and students in her classes. This year, all of the participating students were from the Spanish and French NHSs.

Thomas, also an advisor, was thrilled to have his students involved in the efforts.

According to Boyle, “[Thomas] asked if he and his students from French NHS could help me. I said, ‘Sure! The more the merrier!'”

The treats were collected by the students in early November. Boyle asked her students and colleagues at RBR to bring in their excess Halloween candy. They also held bake sales to accrue money to ship the stockings.

The result was enough collected treats to fill a total of 60 stockings.

“We filled 30 for the soldiers and had so much candy left that we bought 30 more stockings and gave 30 stockings to Cassandra Dorn, an English teacher at Red Bank Regional, who helps families with Christmas gifts at Linkages in Tinton Falls,” Boyle said.

Junior student Megan Dingelstedt enjoys sending some holiday cheer to soldiers who serve every day.

“It felt good to know I was helping people who help us on a daily basis. I was amazed at the generosity of all the candy donations and hope that we were able to do something to brighten their Christmas,” she said.

Senior student Emily Murray seconded that emotion.

“This experience reminded me to be grateful for even the smallest things. Even though stuffing the stockings did not require a huge amount of effort on our part, I know that the men and women that receive the stockings will be so grateful for them. It is amazing how small actions can make a big difference and bring so much joy to others,” Murray said.

Serena Rotmansky, a senior and president of the Spanish NHS, said the experience was pleasant.

“Even though the room got a bit hectic, there was an overall theme in the room, which was ‘generosity.’ Knowing that these stockings were going overseas and to soldiers made all the chaos worth it. It really makes you stop and think about how you may be taking life for granted. Pause once in awhile and tell your family that you love them,” Rotmansky said.

Boyle and Thomas and their students wanted to make sure the men and women serving our country and fighting for our freedom, away from their own families, feel remembered during the holiday season. It is a way RBR students can connect to those brave and selfless Americans serving abroad in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“It felt good to know the soldiers will wake up to a stocking on Christmas,” said Morgan McIntyre, a junior.

“I’m glad I am able to help bring joy to the soldiers overseas. It was a rewarding and fun experience,” said Ainsley Thistlewaite, a junior.

“The whole experience was nice to see everyone with the same motivation to help soldiers in need,” said Bridget Tobin, a junior.

Thirty stockings filled to the brim with all kinds of candy are en route via U.S. Postal Service to the Middle East for fellow New Jerseyan Master Sgt. George “Christian” Wutsch and his army unit in Qatar. The stockings should be arriving the first week in January. It takes about two weeks for the stockings to reach the Middle East.

“Usually the soldiers send me pictures via email to share with the students,” said Boyle.

Boyle and Wutsch attended Central Regional High School in Bayville together and have been friends for over 20 years. He is now, coincidentally, Boyle’s parents’ neighbor. Boyle sends along a handwritten letter to Wutsch with the package. Currently deployed in Qatar, Wutsch will be back in New Jersey this spring.

“I stuff stockings for the soldiers because I am so proud to be an American, and I am proud to support our troops. Even without a club, I’d stuff stockings for the soldiers. For me, it’s important to send a sense of ‘home’ and ‘tradition’ to those serving our country. I believe that the students of today are the patriots of our future, and I hope that they continue to think of our heroes during the holidays and every day,” Boyle said.

“Being able to do something as simple as stuff stockings with candy to make someone’s day even just a tiny bit better makes me feel like I’m actually helping make a difference,” said Becky Crosby, a junior.