In the eyes of the average third-grader, America being at war probably seems pretty normal.
Throughout the lives of the kids in Sarah Wright's third grade class at Seminole Heights Elementary, the country has been embroiled in conflict overseas. It's a fact that is not lost on the kids, who this week sent 250 donated cards with well wishes scrawled on the inside to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They understand that mothers and fathers are over there fighting, too," Wright said. "With it being third grade they don't have a handle on the realities over the war but we talk about the war and how men and women serve our country. I have one student in the class whose father is in the military and she really enjoyed making cards for other people like she does for her father."
The cards are the product of s. Brooks has been making the cards regularly for families to send to their kids over the last few years. A project with local elementary schoolers is something she has wanted to do for awhile.
"Right after I heard that we were again named the best neighborhood in Tampa, I thought let's prove it," Brooks said. "I made a call to the school, and the next day, Sarah Wright called me and said she would take it on. I had some people that wanted to donate cards and I matched their contribution. I make them, people buy them and the kids write to the troops. That's a community, and the way it's supposed to work."
The content of the cards is part of the joy Brooks say she gets out of organizing it.
"My son got cards from some little kids when he was over there, and when he came back, he had them all," Brooks said. "The kids know that there are people over there and they don't think about the words like adults do, so some of the things on there turn out to be so pricless."
The innocent nature of the kids is often exposed through the cards. Brooks recalls one of her personal favorites: A card from a little girl that read, "hope you make it back for your next birthday, that would be a bummer."
For Brooks and families that include her friends at the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association (TAMPA), involving kids and reminding them that others are fighting for their country is as an important and full time job.
"We don't talk about it too much as adults," Brooks said. "It's been 11 years since we went into Afghanistan, and the death toll of U.S. soliders just reached 2,000. It's not up to a few people to show the troops support, it's something we all have to do as a community."