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Higley students create ‘Smiles’ for soldiers

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  • Michelle Reese/Higley Unified School District

Power Ranch Elementary School Kids Club Members Have Made More Than 200 Cards To Send To Soldiers This Holiday Season And Hope To Complete 500 By The End Of The Week. Photo Courtesy Of Higley Unified School District

Higley Unified School District’s Kids Club activity leader Samantha Rumzis at Power Ranch Elementary School said the story of a friend’s son – a U.S. solider serving away from home – led her to take on an ambitious project encouraging students to create and write more than 500 letters to send to American soldiers.

Rumzis told the students about how soldiers often receive encouragement and support in the form of letters.

Higley students create ‘Smiles’ for soldiers PowerRanchSendaSoldierASmile

Power Ranch Elementary School Kids Club members have made more than 200 cards to send to soldiers this holiday season and hope to complete 500 by the end of the week. Photo courtesy of Higley Unified School District

“My friend’s son received a lot of letters from his family, but there were a lot of soldiers who did not,” she recalled.

That family took the lead and launched “Send a Soldier a Smile,” a project that encourages students, groups and community members to write letters that are sent to military personnel.

The Kids Club students in the before- and after-school program at Power Ranch Elementary School quickly made more than 200 cards using paper, glitter, stickers and even their own art designs. Rumzis hopes to deliver 500 letters and cards when the week is done.

“We wanted to help them during the holidays,” Rumzis said. Kids Club programs at other Higley elementary schools joined in service project and are also making cards.

“It’s so cute and they get so excited,” Rumzis said.

Higley students create ‘Smiles’ for soldiers PowerRanchSendaSoldierASmile2

Joshua Leonard, Alexandra Edison, Josephine Aguilar and Julianna Arroyo at Power Ranch Elementary School in the Higley Unified School District create cards to send to U.S. soldiers over the holidays. Photo courtesy of Higley Unified School District

Once the letters are done, Rumzis will give them ‘Send a Soldier a Smile’, which will then then send them to the soldiers. Donations are collected by the project leaders to pay the postage.

“The thing I like best about doing this is I get to send soldiers cards who don’t get them very often or at Christmas,” said Kaydince Wilkins, 7.

“We made pop up cards with fireplaces and presents and trees,” said Alexandra Edison, 9.

Some of the supplies were already in Rumzis’ art closet at the school, but others she purchased to give the students more variety to work with. More than 40 students took part at Power Ranch Elementary. Other Higley schools are also making cards.

Lynda and Mike Wooten of Gilbert started Send a Soldier a Smile in 2003 when their son was an Army combat medic in Iraq.

“We’re going to have an awful lot of soldiers with smiles on their faces,” said Lynda Wooten with Send a Soldier a Smile.

“The best part is I love how the kids write cards to the soldiers because they write how they feel. We want them to feel like we’re telling them in person. I like how there’s beauty in the cards,” said Paris Garland, 9.

The Phoenix Suns recently partnered with Send a Soldier a Smile at a game. Fans were given cards to sign that will be mailed overseas.

To learn more about the group, see their Facebook Page. Cards must be received by Nov. 25 in order to be sent by the holidays. Lynda and Mike Wooten of Send a Soldier a Smile can be reached at (480) 633-9702 or

“My main thing is to reach out to soldiers who have no family or they cannot afford to send cards,” Mrs. Wooten said. “People don’t realize there are so many soldiers who get nothing. It’s unbelievable. That’s what I want to prevent.”

For more information, please contact: Michelle Reese, public relations officer, (480) 279-7141 or You may also reach Samantha Rumzis at (480) 272-3110. Media are invited to visit with the classroom 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, or 3:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21.