Candy shared by Buckskin Elementary students has made its way to a soldier far from home, but whose hometown is not far from the school in South Salem.
The importance of sharing, caring for others, and giving back to the community is something that Buckskin staff have long tried to instill in students, and one of those ways is to give students the opportunity to share their candy from Halloween trick or treating with folks who are far from home and serving in the military.
The school has done this for years, collecting the candy in a box set up outside principal Michael Shumate’s office. He said the kids are always very generous with sharing their candy. They are never sure where the candy ends up, only that it goes to soldiers. He said they have always thought it would be neat if it ended up with someone from the area that had at least heard of Buckskin Elementary.
This year, the kids donated enough candy to fill three boxes to ship off to soldiers. According to teacher Lynda Cottrill, “That would appear to be the end of the story.” But it is not.
Cottrill said the story continued when a Buckskin parent received a message from a friend saying that a local soldier and his platoon had a box of candy from Buckskin Elementary. That local soldier is Sgt. Austin DePugh from Chillicothe.
The message relayed to Cottrill was that when the box arrived, it came with the announcement, “Special delivery from Buckskin Elementary.” DePugh responded with, “We have one of those back home.” Then it was learned that the package was, indeed, from Ohio. DePugh “was in disbelief,” Cottrill said.
Despite the seemingly impossible odds, the box of Halloween candy donated by Buckskin students to bring a bit of joy to someone far from home had made it thousands of miles away to the Middle East and into the company of someone who grew up in the area.
“This heartwarming story has touched every heart that has heard it,”Cottrill said. “How a simple act of kindness from a group of kids and staff could make a positive impact on soldiers all those miles away. No act of kindness is too small! Thank you Austin and your fellow soldiers for your service and dedication to our country and the sacrifices you make for us.”
Shumate is retiring this school year, but he hopes that the incoming principal will continue this tradition. He also challenges other school districts and organizations to join in the effort of supporting every small act of kindness.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.