“It is gestures like this that let the troops know that Canadians stand behind our efforts…” – Colonel Lee Hammond, Deputy Commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan.
On Monday, December 16, 2013, the small community of Bethany was honoured with a special visit from two Canadian soldiers who recently returned from their six month deployment in Kabul, Afghanistan. Major Kelly Labaree-Sampson from CFB Borden and Captain Nathalie Daley from CFB Trenton visited Rolling Hills Public School to surprise grade 8 student, Byrce Gray with a heartfelt “thank-you” for the Support the Troops fundraiser he organized in his community.
After attending We Day in Toronto this past September, Bryce was inspired to take action and immediately started planning his “Support the Troops” project. His goal was to make 15 to 20 care packages and send them oversees to troops in Afghanistan. Bryce spent three Saturdays in front of local business in Bethany canvassing donations; he placed donation jars in restaurants and churches; and even reached out to the local Fire Department. He encouraged his peers at school to donate food by offering students a chance to win $25 with every food donation they made. With the support of his school and the community of Bethany, Bryce raised over $1300 for his Support the Troops project and was able to surpass his goal and send 25 care packages oversees.
The Canadian Armed Forces were so thrilled with Bryce’s gesture that they wanted to say a special “thank-you” to him. Major Kelly Labaree-Sampson and Captain Nathalie Daley told Bryce and the community of Bethany how grateful they were to receive the care packages and how much it means to them to enjoy a little piece of home – they especially appreciated the peanut butter. Major Kelly Labaree-Sampson shared how they would look forward to going to the Canadian House to enjoy a bagel and peanut butter on their days off.
Bryce was given a letter written by Colonel Lee Hammond, a picture of the Canadian Troops in Kabul, and a framed picture of two soldiers in combat. The school principal, Sheila Shauf, was presented with a Canadian Flag that was flown at their camp in Kabul.
It’s inspiring to see a small community like Bethany come together with one student’s ambition to be the change. Trillium Lakelands District School Board is proud of Bryce’s perseverance and citizenship; he truly is a great model of character.