SAMC Soldiers walk children to school, promote safety
Sgt. Edward A. Garibay,
16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment:
Every year in October, children from more than 40 countries join together in celebration of International Walk to School Day, an event that is part of a movement for year-round safe routes to schools.
This year in El Paso, a special group of individuals joined the festivities and marched alongside the students of Schuster Elementary School. For the Soldiers of Fort Bliss and the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, there is nowhere else they would have rather been that Oct. 3 morning, said Sgt. 1st Class Rose Artis, a SAMC member.
“It was a big deal to the kids,” said the school’s principal, Anthony Tomasheski. “At this age, kids think superheroes and Soldiers are the coolest thing, so they couldn’t believe that they had these ‘superhero Soldiers’ walking them to school.”
As the children met up before the event, their eyes widened at the approach of their green-suited icons. They quickly made friends, and some walked hand-in-hand with the Soldiers as they strolled to class.
“It just reminded me of when I was a little girl,” said Artis, the patient accountability noncommissioned officer-in-charge for William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
When they arrived to school, the students began their day next to their heroes as the national anthem played. Some of the students even saluted the flag. They ate a small breakfast and sat at tiny tables while making conversation with their new giant friends.
“It’s really an honor that you guys can come and visit our school,” said 3rd grader, Dakota Alfarto, as she spoke to one of the Soldiers.
“We greatly appreciate our Soldiers,” said Tomasheski. “Not only are they keeping our country safe, but they’re making a difference for the community of El Paso and the children here at Schuster.”
International Walk to School Day was just the beginning for the Soldiers of Fort Bliss and the SAMC. They plan to continue volunteering at Schuster Elementary School as a part of the Partners in Education program.
“I hope to come back and do some more,” said Artis. “Whether it’s walking, tutoring or playing in the playground, we have to support our future, which is our children.”
Before the end of the day, one child decided she wanted to get an autograph from her courageous visitors. The trend quickly caught on and soon every student wanted an autograph. The Soldiers did not resist. They filled the pages with encouraging messages like, “Stay in school!” and “You’re the best!” and didn’t leave until every child got a signature.
For more information about SAMC visit www.Facebook.com/BlissSAMC.
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