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Students helping soldiers in collection effort

December 01, 2010
CENTER HARBOR — An Inter-Lakes High School student is working to make soldiers more comfortable overseas through the generosity of her peers.

Leyla Duymazlar of Center Harbor is collecting items from homerooms at Inter-Lakes High School that will be sent to soldiers serving overseas.

Students are bringing in magazines, tissues, toothpaste, and other items that will be sent through Duymazlar's organization and participation in Yellow Ribbon Support Group. Yellow Ribbon Support Group is an organization that sends letters and wish list packages to military personnel serving overseas.

Duymazlar said it is an issue that hits especially close to home for her, as her grandfather was a World War II veteran.

"My mom and I started thinking of ways we could help and try to get stuff to help them," Duymazlar said.

Duymazlar said she was looking for organizations that she could go through to get items to soldiers and found Yellow Ribbon after reading about them in "O," the Oprah magazine.

Yellow Ribbon has a list of requested items that changes on a regular basis. The current list includes batteries, white socks, tuna salad and crackers packages, eye drops, mouthwash, and many other daily necessities. Also included are inflatable balls for soldiers to play with during off-times and Beanie Babies and small stuffed animals for soldiers to give them to children in the areas they are stationed.

"It's just what will make the soldiers more comfortable overseas," Duymazlar said.

She spoke about her effort to Inter-Lakes High School Principal Patricia Kennelly, who gave her permission and support to conduct the collection in homerooms.

The beginning of the collection was scheduled for around Veterans Day. Homerooms had a contest to see who could collect the most items with the winning homeroom receiving doughnuts.

Leyla's mother Jane Duymazlar said parents whose jobs give them ready access to large quantities of a specific item have provided that item. This includes a parent who is a dentist and provided many sample-sized tubes of toothpaste and another who is a doctor and provided many magazines from the waiting room.

Leyla Duymazlar said she was amazed with the amount of donations that have been collected so far, especially considering that there have been several other collections during this holiday season.

"It's a lot. I didn't expect this much but it's great," she said. "People were kind of like 'We never really had this.'"

In addition to the item donations, letters and pictures are also requested from students.

Duymazlar said she will also speak with the principals at the Elementary School and Middle Tier about having collections in those schools. If the collection is successful, she wants to ask an art teacher about having a class make artwork for the soldiers.

She will also approach local businesses about having a collection box. A collection is taking place at Lakes Region Dance Studio, where Leyla dances. She said she has talked to the students about the collection. A collection is also being done at Dewey's Ice Cream Parlor and Café in Center Harbor, which is managed by her grandfather Mehmet Duymazlar.

"I'm extremely proud of my daughter," Jane Duymazlar said. "I'm excited to send these over and thinking how happy we can make the troops."

To donate to the collection, contact Leyla Duymazlar at leyla.duymazlar@gmail.com.

Varney Smith
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