Yesterday, I volunteered at Move America Forward for part of the afternoon. MAF, the brain-child of one person, sends care packages to military personnel stationed in such volatile countries at Afghanistan and Iraq. There were over 50 people working two shifts, with several blue-star Moms, assembling shipping boxes, filling them, then sealing them and stacking them on pallets for delivery by the US Postal Service.
More than half working were kids between 10 and 16 years old, mostly home-educated, whose parents want to raise them to be responsible. It was loud and social and productive. We assembled and filled almost 900 boxes, stopping only because we started running out of stuff.
I worked at the front and back, taping empty boxes together and then sealing them after they were filled. In front of me were several long tables overflowing with snacks and drinks, music CD's and postcards, chap sticks and deodorant, and lots of other stuff anyone in these places might need or could use.
"Trail mix!" someone would yell, again, and one of the teens in the back would bring a case of trail mix, opened and ready to be distributed. Give kids a reason to yell and they will.
"Empty box!" another kid would yell, bringing a flurry of smaller kids to snatch the empty and whisk it away.
"Cookies!" (Better get outta the way.)
"Deodorant!" (Don't say it.)
Outside, several young boys were taking turns stacking the filled boxes on pallets, building forts with walls and battlements until a teen came by to take the heavy pallet away. Dragging another pallet up to replace the filled one, the boys would constantly rush in and grab filled shipping boxes, one or two at a time, and build a new fort.
In back, teens hustled about, laughing and joking, opening boxes for the people at the tables. Cartons filled with snacks and necessities were soon replaced with mailing boxes. From one box into another.
Everyone worked hard, enjoyed themselves and felt like they had accomplished something. I saw kid's who knew how to work, and others who were learning how to see what needed doing, then doing it. Everyone there had a deep appreciation for those serving in the military. No one slacked off. It was an enjoyable time.
Gerald F. Ward