TOP for the Troops

There is a misconception that teenagers are apathetic. That they spend their lives glued to the screens of their smartphones, oblivious to the world around them.

One need only spend five minutes with the teens enrolled in Community Partners TOP Program to see this is certainly not the case.

TOP Program Coordinator works Jamari Grant works with teens at Palm Beach Lakes High School and during the month of December, they pitched in to complete a community service project close to their hearts - supporting the troops.

Selling snacks during their lunch hour, these enterprising teens raised $800 and took these funds to the Forgotten Soldier Outreach in Lake Worth. It was here that they created 30 care packages stuffed with essentials like deodorant, razors and shampoos and thoughtful extras like Girl Scout Cookies and comic books.

Included in every package was a handwritten letter, thanking the soldier for his service and dedication to the United States of America.

In addition to being an act of community service, students also learned a remarkable amount during the experience. Tonea learned that staples like toothpaste and hand sanitizer actually have expiration dates and Emelin was shocked to discover tampons included in care packages for male soldiers. In the heat of war, they are used to stem bloodflow from injuries and are invaluable due to their small size, portability and absorbency. 

"The teens were glad they had a chance to impact someone's life and were grateful they could make someone feel special. Especially when these brave soldiers risk their lives every day to protect us," said Jamari.

By engaging in this project and giving back, Palm Beach Lakes High School students are Changing The Odds. Being entrenched in a warzone can be a disorientating and lonely experience for a soldier but receiving a care package from a stranger is a message of hope - I appreciate you, I'm thinking about you and I thank you for your service.

"We help change the odds by showing teens that there are individuals in this world that do things like protect us without us even knowing," Jamari said. "The little things can make the biggest impact on someone's life."