CLINTON — The third time around for a Clinton School District candy drive has proven to be its most successful.
"Treats for Troops," headed by the Clinton Middle School and Clinton High School Leo Club, gets area students to round up candy after Halloween to send as care packages to United States military members stationed around the world. In its first year, about 328 pounds of candy was sent to military men and women all over the map.
But the best was yet to come. Last year, the joint effort between schools collected 420 pounds. Would that be hard to top? Organizers were unsure, but knew the race to beat the record was on. On Friday, at a ceremony honoring area veterans at CMS, it was announced that the 2018 Treats for Troops campaign amassed more than 775 pounds of candy.
That's right, nearly 800 pounds.
"Last fall, we received confirmation from Operation Gratitude (which partners with the club to organize the event) that we were one of the biggest donors in the whole United States," Leo Club co-founder and Clinton School District media specialist Emma Folland told those in attendance Friday.
Last fall, on the heels of Veterans Day, club co-founder and Clinton High School special-education teacher Andrew Carbajal described exactly how receiving one of those packages felt to him. Carbajal, a United States Army veteran himself, was stationed in Iraq for two years during his 2005-2009 deployment.
Knowing an individual or group is keeping you in mind halfway across the globe is a vital piece of support, he said.
"Receiving those packages is such a morale boost, and I hope people realize that," Carbajal said. "When you get one of those, it honestly might get you through the night. I’ve been there. Every little thing can make a huge difference when morale is at an all-time low.
"One of the things that this shows is that we are certainly a veteran-friendly community," Carbajal continued. "It’s been great to see so many people rise to the occasion for a cause like this. Hopefully they know the difference that something like this can make, and what a pick-me-up this can be for our military members."