JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
General Stanford Elementary School children gathered around a table topped with school supplies donated by the Eustis Sergeants Major Association at Fort Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 30, 2015.
As students gazed at the various pencils, papers and craft supplies, their principal, Diane Willis, walked up to the association members with an open hand and look of undeniable gratitude on her face.
"All of this is just so valuable," Willis said as she shook each member's hand. "We will make use of all of this; thank you so much for your support. We used everything you donated last year, so this is a huge help to our students."
The association, which was reestablished in 2012, coordinates with the school faculty annually to prioritize, collect and then donate needed supplies that enable all students to sufficiently complete school projects as required by school policy.
Willis added that without the donation, the school would also have to fundraise and reorganize its budget, taking away from educational technology and science, technology, engineering, and math program investments.
According to Jerry Taylor, ESMA vice president and retired command sergeant major, donating to the school not only serves the community, but gives the community an example of Army core values.
"As the senior enlisted in the Army, we want to exemplify leadership," said Taylor. "When we reinstated the association, we wanted to do things for the community, not just Soldiers, but their families, and veteran's programs off post such as the food bank and the VA hospital. We're hoping people see that everyone who can, does participate in giving back to the community."
For Willis, the association's message of supporting the Army family as well as those who surround it, is clear to not only her and her faculty, but the students who will use the supplies to complete many projects throughout the school year.
"This is important not only for the students to complete their projects, but because it connects us to the community," said Willis. "Students see this as a model of how to give back to the community in different ways, and it shows them how we all can rely on one another."