FORT HOOD, Texas (8/28/2012) — "It's about giving back to a
community that has given so much to you,” said Sgt. Johnny
Merical, a native of Dallas Center, Iowa, a CH-47 Chinook
helicopter repairer for B Company, 615th Aviation Support
Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
Merical headed a fundraiser to provide school supplies for
the Mae Stevens Elementary school in Copperas Cove, Texas.
A student from Mae Stevens Elementary School thankfully shakes
the hand of Sgt. Johnny Merical, a native of Dallas Center, Iowa, a
CH-47 Chinook helicopter repairer for B Company, 615th Aviation
Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
Merical and other soldiers of the 615th ASB helped collect and
deliver donated school supplies at Mae Stevens Elementary School in
Copperas Cove, Texas, Aug. 22, 2012. Merical and his family will be
leaving the Fort Hood area soon, so Merical took it upon himself to
collect what turned out to be about $2,500 worth of new school
supplies for the students of Mae Stevens Elementary. Photo
by Army Sgt. Richard Wrigley
For more than a month he collected donations. With help from other
soldiers in his platoon, he purchased school supplies and presented
the donations at Mae Stevens Elementary School, Aug. 22.
After Merical and his fellow soldiers set up a display of all of the
new school supplies in the school's gymnasium, members of the
community, along with children, parents and school faculty came by
to hear Merical explain why he did all of this.
the people in attendance about his time in Copperas Cove and how the
community had supported him.
"I've been here almost six
years, and have lived here the whole time. I'm leaving now, but the
community has supported me whenever I needed it, and the school
district really looked out for my family when they allowed my
children to stay in Mae Stevens even though the re-zoning could have
forced them to go to a different school," Merical said.
is the biggest volunteer effort that Merical has undertaken, he is
no stranger to the selfless service of volunteer work, said Capt.
originally from Iowa City, Iowa, a platoon leader in B Company,
"He's done a lot of volunteering for the unit and the
surrounding community. When I think of Sgt. Merical, I think
of selfless service," added Cortez.
"He is also a
very disciplined,” Cortez said. “In my opinion his
professionalism and work ethic are unparalleled at his level
within the platoon.”
The students and family members
of the school were in dire need of the supplies, which was
also a main factor behind the decision to donate
specifically to Mae Stevens Elementary, added Merical.
Joe Burns, the superintendent for the Copperas Cove
Independent School District, echoed Merical's sentiment.
"About 63 percent of this campus' student population
consists of kids who receive free or reduced lunches. This
means that a lot of the families that have kids who attend
here simply don't have the resources to provide [the
children] with all the things they need for school," Burns
"This donation Sgt. Merical put together ...
will go a long, long way to meeting the needs of those
families," Burns added.
Another official from the
Coppers Cove ISD talked about how the results of the fund
raiser will benefit the students as they begin this school
"Many of these students are used to getting
hand-me-down materials. Just imagine how happy these
students will be to have a brand-new notebook or binder this
year," said Rick Kirkpatrick, the deputy superintendant for
Copperas Cove ISD.
Merical said he hopes that his and
his fellow soldiers' efforts to help the families of the
local community will have a lasting impact.
going to help the kids, this is going to help the families
... My family and I are about to leave, but the good that
this has done for the community will last much longer than
that," said Merical.
More photos available below
By Army Sgt. Richard Wrigley
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