Air Force JROTC students at Caesar Rodney High School are taught a lot − military drills, physical fitness and aerospace science − but JROTC instructors retired Master Sgt. Jay Wedel and retired Col. Mitch Berger aim to teach their cadets the importance of helping others, as well.
One way they're doing this is by holding a T-shirt drive to raise money for families within the district who have been affected by cancer.
What started out as a small effort that raised just a few hundred dollars in 2011 has grown astronomically. Last year, roughly 500 shirts were sold and the drive raised more than $3,000. The money was divided: $1,000 was provided as a scholarship to a Caesar Rodney senior who was battling cancer; $1,000 was given to a local family to help fund their child's treatment at Alfrd I. duPont Hospital; $1,300 was given to a Charlton teacher who was battling cancer; and $500 was given to the Caesar Rodney High School volleyball team's breast cancer awareness drive.
This year, the goal is to sell 800 T-shirts, Berger said. More than 450 shirts have already been sold and there is still a month left in the program.
"Last year we had a cadet who sold 46 shirts in three class periods," Wedel said. "We've had a few kids who have sold 20 shirts. Some sell a lot, but the majority sells at least one."
The T-shirts that the Air Force JROTC are selling are eye-catching. They're emblazed with a logo that reads "CR Family" and are hot pink in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The shirts are sold at every school in the district. Outside of the high school, the effort is headed up by school nurses, but at the high school the fundraiser is run by JROTC members, Wedel said.
"Our kids do most of the sales," Wedel said. "I send the emails out, but the kids are in the school selling to the other kids. It's kind of cool because they see they've made a difference."
The fundraiser also gives students a chance to break the mold, Wedel said.
"The perception of a high school kid is that they're lazy and don't care about anybody but themselves," Wedel said. "I tell them that it's important to reach outside of themselves and help others. When they get involved they can see the effect for the families. They can see the impact they can have."
Alyssa Clark, a Caesar Rodney senior and Air Force JROTC member, has witnessed the impact of the group's hard work on the school and the community.
"I think working together to help others has brought everybody together," Clark said. "We're all from different teams and organizations but this has brought us together."
Page 2 of 2 - To finish out their fundraiser with a bang, the Caesar Rodney Air Force JROTC program is asking that spectators at the Caesar Rodney High School football game on Oct. 25 wear their pink CR family shirts or another pink shirt. Their goal is to flood the stands with pink in a show of support for those affected by breast cancer. Wedel has even informed the opposing team of the event, in hopes that the entire stadium will be blanketed in pink, Wedel said.