JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- The student council at New Bridge Middle School has taken the Jacksonville United Service Organization (USO) on as a pet project. Recently, they headed down to the historical building to add some Christmas cheer by decorating it.
"This is our fourth year coming down to the USO to help in different ways, and our second year decorating," said Kathy Morgan, a seventh grade English teacher at the school. "We asked what we could do to help out, and this was one way to make a difference."
Morgan said that the students of the middle school actively find ways to make a difference within the local community by helping with various programs, such as Toys for Tots, Christmas Cheer and sponsoring eight children this year for Christmas. The USO happens to be an organization that sparked the interest of the student council. Many of the children have parents serving in the military, so they have a keen interest in the USO because it is the "home away from home" for service members.
"I think the children realize the whole idea of Christmas is not only receiving but to give," added Morgan. "By giving to the community, the children demonstrate their wish to give and put those feelings into action."
The decorating only took the children about 45 minutes, but they worked in teams and socialized as they worked. Some students were in such a holiday spirit that they also decorated themselves. By the time they had finished, the doorways, stage, large hall and other rooms were all filled with holiday motifs. The children invented creative ways to use traditional decorations to add holiday spirit.
"I want to thank the students, Kathy Morgan and John Sweeney (seventh grade social studies teacher) for all their support and hard work," said retired Sgt. Maj. Joe Houle, Jacksonville USO interim executive director. "We certainly appreciate all they have done for us and their continued support."
The USO gave each student a candy cane and military collector cards. The cards are similar to baseball cards and were made after Sept. 11 for Enduring Freedom.
New Bridge Middle School student council members said they look forward to returning to the USO in the future to find new ways to support their local military community.