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One S. Church Street, Suite 200, Hazleton, PA 18201
p: 570.455.1508   f: 570.454.7787

Area schools collect hundreds of items for Operation: CAN DO military care packages

Operation CAN DO school donationsTen schools throughout Greater Hazleton collected hundreds of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items as part of the CAN DO Student Action Committee’s 12th annual Operation: CAN DO drive. Items collected will be used to assemble care packages for military members with ties to the area who will be stationed abroad for the holidays.

The CAN DO Student Action Committee coordinates the project every year and is encouraging residents throughout Greater Hazleton to submit names and addresses of any family members or friends who are actively serving in the military and have ties to Greater Hazleton. Names can be submitted to Nancy Stasko, Student Action Committee adviser, by calling 570-455-1508 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Names can also be mailed to “Operation: CAN DO,” c/o Nancy Stasko, 1 S. Church St., Suite 200, Hazleton, PA 18201.

Arthur Street Elementary School, Drums Elementary/Middle School, Freeland Elementary/Middle School, Hazle Township Early Learning Center, Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences, Immanuel Christian School, Maple Manor Elementary/Middle School, McAdoo-Kelayres Elementary/Middle School, Valley Elementary/Middle School and West Hazleton Elementary/Middle School all donated to this year’s drive.

Drums Elementary/Middle School National Junior Honor Society members coordinated the collection drive at their school. Flyers listing items that the troops needed were sent home to students in every grade and daily announcements were made to remind students to bring in their items. NJHS members coordinated daily pick-ups in each class room. NJHS adviser Melissa Stauffer said NJHS officers Victoria Bernstein, Julia Mooney, Ashley Sabia and Isabella Colyer worked tirelessly to gather the items for the troops.

“They took to heart all the sacrifices our soldiers make for us on a daily basis. They reached out to local businesses such as Gould's, Giant, and Wal-Mart and asked if they could do anything to help our club support our troops. All three gave donations so we would like to thank them for supporting our cause,” Stauffer said. “All members of the NJHS participated in this event and were very excited to see their hard work pay off. The items in the picture were just a fraction of what our school donated. We could have never given so much to our troops without the participation of the entire Drums Elementary/Middle School family. I'm very proud of our National Junior Honor Society and our school. When there is a need, Drums Elementary/Middle School always comes through.”

Students in the Builders Club at Freeland Elementary/Middle School have organized a collection for several years and collected items from students in every grade in the school. Club members say they were thankful for the donations and feel a sense of pride to be able to give back to the military members. Builders Club President Isabella Marino said it was an honor to work on this project and do something to help the people who protect our country and keep us safe. "It was an amazing privilege to be able to send care packages to the soldiers that can't be with their families over the holidays," she said. 

Club member Jay Patel collected items on a daily basis and was impressed with the number of students who participated and the amount of items donated to the project. "It was a great feeling to see how many students donated items to our troops. Giving back to our soldiers is a great feeling," he said.

Builders Club adviser Nathan DeBalko said that the club members always find this to be one of their most rewarding projects of the school year. “I would like to thank CAN DO for organizing this project annually. Operation: CAN DO is a great way to thank our troops who sacrifice so much,” he said.

Valley Elementary/Middle School also took a school-wide, team approach to organizing their collection. Several groups, including National Junior Honor Society and Student Council members and second grade students, spread the word about the collection and worked together to gather the donations. Donna Grobelny, NJHS co-adviser, said everyone stressed to the students to think about who they were donating to and why they were making a donation with every item that they brought.

“When students are asked to donate to any cause, the lesson learned is that one should give as if he or she, or a family member, is receiving the items. Donating means doing it with thoughtfulness, caring and respect in mind and not as an afterthought or feeling it is a forced duty,” Grobelny said. “I appreciate that CAN DO has championed this endeavor and our hearts go out to those who serve our country.” 

Caption: Ten schools throughout Greater Hazleton collected hundreds of non-perishable food and personal hygiene items as part of the CAN DO Student Action Committee’s 12th annual Operation: CAN DO drive. At top, Drums Elementary/Middle School students posed with CAN DO staff members in front of some of the items the school collected. Pictured are, kneeling, from left: Victoria Bernstein, NJHS secretary; Ashley Sabia, NJHS president; and Julia Mooney, NJHS treasurer. Standing: Isabella Colyer, NJHS Vice President; Nancy Stasko, CAN DO Student Action Committee co-adviser; Nick Micene, CAN DO maintenance specialist; and Jonathan Sachs, student volunteer. In the bottom photo, Freeland Elementary/Middle School students pose with their collection. Pictured are, first row, from left: Builders Club members Jacob Miller, Jay Patel and Kendra Petruce, Builders Club Secretary Emily Ledger, Builders Club Vice President Jayde Yagalla, Builders Club President Isabella Marino, Builders Club Treasurer Madison Forsythe and Builders Club Historian Mackenzie Youngcourt. Second row: Builders Club adviser Nathan DeBalko and CAN DO Student Action Committee co-adviser Charlie Burkhardt.

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