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Killeen High student spearheads snack collection for single soldiers

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Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:30 am

Looking to serve her community, the daughter of a soldier remembered the stories her dad told of returning to lonely barracks.

Killeen High School sophomore Cassandra Villarreal completed a required personal service project Friday when soldiers picked up donated snacks for redeploying single soldiers.

Sophomores in the Middle Years Program at KHS must complete the personal project as part of the requirement to move on to the International Baccalaureate diploma program.

Villarreal struggled with some service ideas before inspiration hit through her father, Juan Villarreal, now retired from the military, and KHS curriculum director Nancy Duran, also a former soldier.

The 10th-grader asked for donations from local businesses and her classmates in the program donated snack foods for the cause.

In the end, Command Sgt. Maj. Manuel Doyle, Spc. Clayton Vroom and Lt. Caitlin McArdle picked up three cartloads of snack food and $575 in cash to greet soldiers soon to return to Fort Hood from Afghanistan.

“Being in a military family, it was hard watching my dad struggle through everything he experienced,” Villarreal said. “He told stories of soldiers coming home to nothing. That touched me and I knew I wanted to get the community to help.”

Doyle credited Villarreal for an accurate description of the scene that plays out at Cooper Field at Fort Hood when families reunite and single soldiers have to get back on the bus.

Those soldiers, he said, must receive a key for their newly issued barrack assignment and often enter an empty space.

“What you did, is you gave them hope,” Doyle told Villarreal. “These soldiers will know there are people who care for them.”

Doyle presented Villarreal with a battalion coin and gave other students certificates for their contribution.

“Today was a relief,” Villarreal said. “I am thrilled and excited. I was surprised to receive a coin. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

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