May 18, 2012
May 18, 2012, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. -- Two thousand students from elementary schools in Ocean County, N.J. collected over 500 pounds of snacks and gifts to ship to service members deployed overseas during their second annual “Support the Troops” drive.
Under the leadership of Berkeley Township Elementary School (BTES) teacher Kirk Burr and assistant teacher Joseph Zaccone, students from BTES, Bayville Elementary School, Clara B. Worth Elementary School, and H&M Potter Elementary School in Berkeley Township, N.J. collected snacks, gum, beef jerky, cookies, shampoo, international phone cards and Sudoku games, along with treats for deployed military working dogs. The students also wrote hundreds of personal letters thanking the troops for their sacrifice and service to the nation.
Working with Michael Zitaglio, Military Support officer for the Naval Civilian Managers Association (NCMA), Lakehurst Chapter at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL), Burr and his enthusiastic students loaded the ”care packages” onto a school bus on May 11th for delivery to NCMA officers at JB MDL. Assisting with the delivery were Berkeley Township mayor, Carmen Amato, Berkeley Township School District superintendent Joseph Vicari and Berkeley Township Council president James Byrnes.
The annual program started in 2011 when Burr teamed up with the NCMA to provide an avenue for local school children to show their support for the men and women serving overseas in the U.S. military.
Following delivery of the care packages, Zitaglio and John Schmelzle, NCMA president led the attending students and guests on a tour of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) engineering complex at JB MDL. Schmelzle described many of the different engineering activities performed at JB MDL in support of naval aviation. Zitaglio showed the group a U.S. flag on display in one of the engineering buildings that was flown over Al Faw Palace in Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and presented to the NCMA in appreciation for their support of the troops.
“The effort from the students of Berkeley Township is a significant part of the support we give to the troops,” said Zitaglio. “Thank you for all the time and work you put in during the school year to show them how much you care.”
The Berkeley group also toured the site of the 1937 Hindenburg crash, visited historic Hangar One and the ¼ scale aircraft carrier deck inside the hangar used to train Sailors on flight deck operations.
Burr viewed the visit as a unique opportunity for his students to learn how NAVAIR supports the fleet, and how the philanthropic efforts of his students directly contribute to the troops in the field. He looks forward to working with NCMA next year and continuing the project.
NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs