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Giving Back

Middle school students lead drive to help local children whose parents are fighting in Iraq.

Just in time for the holidays, students and teachers at Langston Hughes Middle School organized a “Baskets for Babies” drive to help families, especially infants and toddlers, at Fort Belvoir who have mothers or fathers stationed overseas.

Representatives from the Alexandria-area base were on hand at the Reston school to accept several baskets of donations, including diapers, baby clothes and toys.

“We hope these gifts will spread a little holiday cheer at Ft. Belvoir,” said seventh-grader Nicholas Ryals, 12, one of the charity drive’s student leaders as he presented the gifts to Rosa Hamilton and Sheila Wilson.

Hamilton, who works for the Army community services department, thanked the students for their generous donations, some of which she said will be delivered to off-base families in Reston and Herndon. “We are so honored and happy that you saw a need,” she said.

“I can’t tell you how happy these mothers and their children will be to see all of this,” Wilson added. “It really means a lot, especially at this time of year.”

At the Dec. 16 event, assistant principal Veronica Abrams applauded the students’ efforts in the week-long donation drive, which was sponsored by the school’s peer mediators, student council association, Red Cross club and National Junior Honor Society. “I had no clue that you all had collected so much stuff,” Abrams said, after sorting through the tables of donated gifts. “You really showed a collective spirit at this time of giving. It’s a real testament that you were willing to pitch in and give back to your community.”

Abrams told the assembled students that the donations were especially important given the ongoing conflicts abroad. “Many young men and some women have had to leave their families leaving one parent in charge of the house and the kids. It’s a lot of stress for a young wife with kids at home when their father is fighting overseas,” Abrams said. “These people really sacrifice a lot for the freedoms that we take for granted, too often, here.”

The significance of the event was not lost on the students involved, said eighth grader Sabrina Faubert, 13. “It’s a simple act, but it was really important to all of us. We really wanted to have a good showing, so I think it is very cool that we were able to get all of this stuff for people who really need it,” said Faubert, a peer mediator. “Given all that they have done for us and our country, these people deserve all of the support we can offer.”