Saturday, May 14, 2005

School needs help
hosting Marines

McKinley High classes plan
to treat returning troops to
a free lunch

A McKinley High School teacher and her students will hold a Memorial Day Luncheon to welcome back the Kaneohe Marines who recently returned from Iraq.

Leimomi Stender-Jenkins, a Hawaiian and American history teacher for 25 years, is asking for donations from the public to cover the 175 to 400 meals for soldiers and their immediate families who might attend.

The luncheon is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 30 at the Hale Koa Hotel. Each meal with tip will cost $21.79; children under 3 will be free. Door prizes and table centerpieces are also needed, she said.

Stender-Jenkins is also asking that people donate toward a trust fund set for children of the 43 isle Marines who died in Iraq.

Stender-Jenkins, whose son is now stationed in Fallujah, said she decided to "do something for the Marines" as her classes' extracurricular service learning project because the 900 members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment have been through a tough time.

"They were the ones who were fighting in Fallujah, which was very tragic," she said. The battle for Fallujah, a rebel stronghold, involved weeks of bloody urban combat.

The Kaneohe Marines also lost 27 men when a helicopter crashed in January, the deadliest incident for Marines since the 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Stender-Jenkins said the 1st Battalion was originally stationed on Okinawa in August for its regular seven-month deployment but was diverted to Iraq in October.

"They never got to say goodbye to their families, and about 40 of them died," she added.

Her son's third deployment as a Marine has made the project "very important to me. I'm doing this for the Marines and their families because of the sacrifices they make," she said.

About 50 of her ninth- and 12th-graders are participating in the community service project and providing multicultural entertainment.

"I want them to do it not for a grade, but because they want to do it. It's important to do things for the community because we are the community. It's so important to give, because I believe it comes back," she said.

Kahus Sherman Thompson and Malia Craver of Kamehameha Schools will bless the luncheon, and some alumni who are professional musicians will entertain.

Stender-Jenkins said she is hoping stores will donate televisions and the like for special door prizes for the Marines, who will also be given the centerpieces. Donations may be dropped off at the McKinley administration building.

"It would be nice to give each family something. The military men don't make a lot of money. A lot of them are young, right out of high school. ... Every year, a bunch of kids from McKinley join the military because they have no money for college and they don't know what they want to do," Stender-Jenkins said.

Checks should be made payable to McKinley High School, attention Ke Ola Hou, 1039 S. King St., Honolulu 96814.

E-mail to City Desk


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