Dixfield schoolchildren are taking part in Operation Shoebox.

DIXFIELD – An idea found on the Internet to send shoeboxes of goods to soldiers in Iraq became a reality Monday for 32 SAD 21 students.

But they had to fork over $90 in postage to mail the 15 parcels, each weighing five to six pounds, after locating a military conduit, said Brenda Skillin.

Skillin, the Student Council adviser for fifth- through eighth-grades at T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School, said the group was looking for a humanitarian fund-raising project to do when a teacher found an article about Operation Shoebox on the Internet.

Operation Shoebox is a nationwide donation drive in which students collect items and prepare care packages to send to U.S. soldiers stationed in the Middle East.

The first part – collecting candy, stationery, cards and toiletries – was easy, Skillin said.

However, three weeks later, after 15 boxes were filled, the students realized they needed a conduit to get the goods to the troops.

Enter Kathy Knight of Dixfield, an ed tech III at the middle school.

Her husband, Major Karl Knight, an environmental science officer with a U.S. Army medical brigade, was deployed to Kuwait on Feb. 17 to take part in America’s war with Iraq.

Karl Knight agreed to distribute the 15 shoeboxes so the youths mailed the first batch Saturday and the second Monday by priority mail.

“We were told it would take two to four weeks, so we sent them priority mail, hoping that they’d get there in two weeks,” Skillin said.

Then, to show their thanks, the 12-member Student Council held a pizza party Wednesday for the project’s participants and invited as their guests of honor, Kathy Knight and one of her five children, Tom Knight, a sixth-grader at the middle school.


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