Richmond children enjoy reading time with local Soldiers

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Spc. Gregory Marcum with the 2123rd Transportation Company reads to students at Glenn Marshall Elementary School in Richmond, Ky., Feb. 7, 2014. Five Soldiers visited the students as part of the unit’s adopt-a-school program which encourages Soldiers to volunteer in their communities. (Photo courtesy of Abby Anglin)

RICHMOND, Ky. — Pages in the books were turned, children listened and laughed as Soldiers read about Pete the Cat and Oscar the talking dog, but it was the roller coaster ride that they may remember the most.

In a quiet classroom of Glenn Marshall Elementary School in Richmond, Ky., Pete and Oscar, characters from popular children’s books were not the center of attention for the students. The young eyes were focused on the Kentucky Guardsmen who paid a special visit to the school Feb. 7. to share reading time, and have a little fun.

Several Soldiers from the Richmond-based 2123rd Transportation Company spent a portion of their day with students as part of the unit’s adopt-a-school program. The five Citizen-Soldiers called the experience rewarding and worth their time. The feelings were mutual.

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Spc. Justin Perkins and 2nd Lt. Carson Gregory with the 2123rd Transportation Company prepare lunch bags for students at Glenn Marshall Elementary School in Richmond, Ky., Feb. 7, 2014. Soldiers visited the school to read to the children and help teachers with activities during the day. (Photo courtesy of Abby Anglin)

“We were honored to have our local heroes spend time with our students today,” said Abby Anglin, Guidance Counselor at the school. “The Soldiers helped in the cafeteria, prepared and delivered Friday Food Bags for our most needy children, read books to classrooms, and talked with individual students. We appreciate this visit so much and look forward to their return.”

Capt. Nelson Anglin, commander of the 2123rd said the program is brand new to the unit this year and that it’s just a small part of his goal for the unit to be valuable members of the community. From food drives to picnics and mentoring with local schools, Anglin believes it’s simply about making a difference.

“The National Guard is about service to our country and our state,” he said. “I try to emphasize to my Soldiers the importance of volunteering in our community and helping in any way they can. We do this to make a difference.”

With the help of his wife, Abby, Anglin set up the day at Glenn Marshall and was welcomed by the staff.

“We are so thankful for the services of these men and women,” said Elizabeth Shields, an exceptional child instructor at the school.  “They don’t realize how much anything they do big or small, changes the lives of our kids.”

“Many of our students come from challenging home situations and the Soldiers visiting shows these kids that people out there care about them,”  said 2nd Grade Teacher Shelley Renfro.

Each of the transportation Soldiers said they enjoy working with the community and setting a good example for the children.

Sgt. Jarred Turner was surprised how supportive the young children were of the military and how curious they were of the Soldiers’ jobs.

“I’ve never heard so many ‘thanks for your service’ from young kids,” he said. “They were diligent in asking serious questions. I never realized how much they really care about what we are doing.”

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Spc. William Redington with the 2123rd Transportation Company shares a moment with students at Glenn Marshall Elementary School in Richmond, Ky., Feb. 7, 2014. The second-graders made a thank you card to give to Soldiers of the unit for spending time at the school as part of the unit’s community involvement program. (Photo courtesy of Abby Anglin)

Spc. William Redington captured the enthusiasm of the children when he led a whole classroom on a roller coaster ride, breaking the quiet atmosphere. Each child raised their arms, swayed to the left, then right and screamed as they dropped down the tracks on their imaginary journey. Redington said he wanted to excite the children upon the Soldiers arrival and was pleased with their participation. He also hopes such interaction can bring about greater mutual respect between the military and society.

“I do a lot of volunteer work already, I love giving back to the community,” he said. ” But, wow! The reactions from the kids, all those smiles, this was one of my favorites. What a day in uniform.”

Anglin said he has good support for the program in his unit, especially with the younger Soldiers who are excited for the unique assignments. He acknowledged that at first, finding volunteers was hard, but with the stories he has heard from this visit, word will spread amongst the unit. He plans on doing more such events with other schools in the area throughout the year.

Anglin always challenges his unit to make an impact and asks them ‘Is your life about something bigger than yourself?” He said he’s happy and excited to get the answers.

“It doesn’t have to take a war or disaster to make a difference. In this case, if we can help one kid or one teacher, then we have made that difference.”

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