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Marine Unit Adopted By West Ranch Students

Son of school’s Health Assistant finds much support from home

When Kathy Cooper, a Health Assistant at West Ranch High School, found out that her son Markus was going to be leaving for his second tour in Iraq, she was hoping to find a way to make his time there as comfortable as possible. What she didn’t count on, was how one email could snowball into a massive effort on behalf of students and faculty.

 

West Ranch Principal Bob Vincent sent out an email to faculty as he always does when someone has news. In the email he asked the staff to keep Kathy’s son in their prayers.

 

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AP History teacher Sara Ehrman immediately approached Kathy and said that with winter approaching, she wanted to help get together blankets for her son’s Marine unit. Then Mary Walsh, another staff member, decided that she wanted to start collecting food and other daily need items that she could collect for the troops.

 

“And then it just mushroomed from there,” said Kathy.

 

And so the gathering began, and participants became so involved in the program that they would make great concessions to the cause. A $500 anonymous check came from a parent, and Principal Vincent even opened his own wallet to the tune of $200 to pay the shipping cost for the first packages.

 

Through the seven months the marines were stationed in Iraq, many shipments arrived for them, with each one becoming larger and larger.

 

“We sent over a hundred and fifty packages to these fourteen young men, and in turn, if they received multiple items, they would pass them along to the rest of their battalion,” Cooper said.

 

Polar Tech blankets, gloves and hats were among the items sent to help the Marines deal with the winter time.

 

Eventually, word spread to nearby schools like Rio Norte and Rancho Pico, which then fed into private enterprise, all of whom rallied to support this unit.

 

The unit recently returned home, and they wanted to make a special trip to West Ranch to say thank you.

 

They were set to stop at the school this afternoon; however a training exercise held them at their base so they were un able to attend. But Markus will be at West Ranch tomorrow to thank the school on behalf of his unit, and will present them with a flag flown over their base in Iraq and dedicated by the Base Commander to West Ranch High School.

 

The Marine Unit was in Iraq from July 2006 to March 2007.