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Guardsman visits students who sent care packages
0501Lula
Sgt. Raymond Huffman of the Army National Guard thanks students Friday at Lula Elementary School for sending care packages overseas while he was stationed in Afghanistan. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

It’s not often that kids get to meet real-life superheroes, but that’s what happened Friday at Lula Elementary School.

“What you may not know is that these troops are superheroes,” said Cheryl Purcell, a fourth-grade teacher during a special assembly.

“They go around the world making things safe for kids and their families. I know you have your Superman and Spiderman and all those other characters, but these are the real superheroes.”

During the assembly, the students were visited by one of those heroes — Sgt. Raymond Huffman, who presented the school with a flag that was flown in Afghanistan. The presentation was a thank you to the students for sending care packages to Huffman and other members of the Echo Company 1-121 Army National Guard group out of Winder.

“When we received the packages, it really meant a lot to the soldiers,” Huffman said. “There are some soldiers who don’t get any mail from home, so this was really special.”

The care packages were even more special to Huffman because his grandsons, Austin and Alex Brock, had a hand in making them.

“I think this is a wonderful thing for the kids to do,” said Michelle Brock, Austin and Alex’s mother. “(The family sent him) mail too, but I know this meant so much to the boys. They love their papa.”

Initially, some of the school’s classes were going to write notes to send to troops in general. But some students wanted to know if their deployed loved ones would be getting their note, and some students wanted to do more — like send an entire care package to each troop that they knew, and thus the project began.

“We sent all kinds of snacks — everyone brought stuff in,” said Austin, a fourth-grader.

This isn’t the first time Lula Elementary students have sent letters and care packages to deployed troops, but it is the first time the students have gotten such a response from a recipient.

“This is really a special thing for him to do,” said Matthew Alexander, Lula Elementary principal. “It’s important for our students to have opportunities like this — it helps to build their respect for our troops.”

While first-grader Alex agrees that sending care packages to the troops is a “good thing to do,” something else is a bit more important.

“I’m just glad my (papa) is back.”

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