After helping raise money and supplies for the victims of the hurricanes in Florida last summer and the tsunami that rocked Indonesia in December, the Lyons Township High School student council felt it was time to give something to the U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.

Back in May, the student council sent 299 pounds of supplies to Iraq. Less than a month later, they received a warm letter from the troops thanking them for their generosity.

“They sent us some pictures and a thank-you letter,” said Kris Costopoulos, who is the faculty student council advisor. “We were all kind of surprised at how quick we received something back from them.”

The drive started in February after the student council felt it was long overdue to help aid the troops overseas.

“Some people may not agree with why we’re in Iraq, but we didn’t think political reasons should stop us from supporting our troops,” said senior Nate Drake, who was the student council president and is headed to West Point in the fall. “We wanted to support our troops, and there was unanimous support for that throughout our school.”

Bins and flyers were placed throughout the two campuses, alerting students to the importance of giving something.

“I think everyone was a little amazed at the amount we ended up collecting,” junior Ben Haiman said. “It’s great to know they have already received the supplies, and followed up with us so we knew. We know we helped a lot of people by collecting the supplies.”

Costopoulos actually sent the boxes directly to the Army Staff Sgt. Martin Geer, who is the son-in-law of Lyons Township High School Buildings and Grounds employee Dave Pechtold.

“Dave told us what they needed over there,” Costopoulos said. “At first, we thought we would probably have a couple [computer] boxes full. But before we knew it, the boxes were filling up pretty quickly.”

Students donated everything from shampoo, books, old magazines and newspapers, cards, hard candy and countless other items to give the troops some stuff they don’t have access to in Iraq.

“We’re really proud of everything we have been able to accomplish,” Drake said. “There has been a lot of unity in this school since Sept. 11, and this shows it.”

The student council plans to send one more shipment of two computer boxes full of supplies over to Iraq sometime this summer.

“I helped bring a lot of boxes to the post office the first time,” Haiman said. “It’s hard to imagine being that far away from your family and friends. That’s why we’re happy that we can do anything to make things better for them over there.”