CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – It's one big pile of backpacks stuffed with school supplies. For the last several months an English class at Monacan High School has collected the materials which are going from Chesterfield, Virginia to 186 girls in Afghanistan.
The idea leads back to a small request from soldier Kevin Gray.
"I didn't really think it was going to be anything like this. I thought it was just going to be a couple boxes or something like that," said Kevin Gray.
The 21-year old received an e-mail from freshman English teacher Jessica Heising right before Christmas break. Her class wanted to send the soldier a gift. Rather than something for himself, he asked for school basics. He and two other soldiers are working to help a school for girls. There's a building, but nothing else.
"It's an all girl's school of 186 students in Paktika province," Gray said.
"When you educate a girl, you're educating a community," said Jessica Heising who joined forces with students, teachers and the community.
"It blew me away that there's so much support back here in the states and it's really means a lot to us to know that people were that concerned with us and the girls in Afghanistan," said Gray.
So today, while on his two-week leave, Gray displayed photos from the war zone, sharing a little piece of himself with students who have already shared much more than he was expecting.
"Once I saw the effect and how many people sent all the things in, it just became something huge," said student Laura Porter.
Boxes and packing materials are accounted for, now the class just needs the funds to ship it all.
"It could be a sizeable sum. Because it does have to go so far and there is so much to send," said Heising who is willing to ask for more help if it means girls, who usually don't get the chance, can attend school. As for Gray, he's found a new mission.
"What I'm hoping is that after we get the 186 backpacks to them, we can continue on with it" he said.
The goal is to ship these backpacks by the end of May. The English class is now working to donations to cover the cost of shipping.
To Help with Shipping costs:
e-mail teacher Jessica Heising: Jessica_Heising@ccpsnet.net