It's a little bit of Montana in a box.
The high school students and staff at Billings Christian School have assembled for military personnel a load of care packages filled with chips, treats and 70 pounds of big-game meat, all of which has been processed into jerky and pepperoni sticks.
“Being able to support the families is a big deal,” said Josh Botz, a senior and student body president. “It's something we can do for them.”
The fathers of two students, a brother of another student and the husband of one of the school's teachers are all deployed overseas. Students at the school wanted the soldiers to know they weren't forgotten and to show the families they weren't going through the experience alone.
“Having them support my brother really defined what family is,” senior Evan Crittenden said.
She said it showed her that family is more than just blood.
Connecting to those in uniform has been one of the goals of Mike Williams, the school's government teacher. Williams, a veteran, has helped oversee the creation of the care packages.
“I'm trying to get these guys to realize these people are serving everyday,” Williams said.
The students have gotten into the experience.
“I think it's a good way for us to show appreciation for our soldiers,” said Jenny Leader, a senior.
“And even small things mean a lot to them,” said fellow classmate, Soon Kyoo.
While the idea to send the care packages originated with the students, the idea to send the meat came from Principal Paul Waggoner.
“I was just coming back from hunting and I thought, 'I bet these guys would like some of this stuff,'” Waggoner said.
A longtime hunter, Waggoner has his game processed at Fourth Avenue Meats. While there earlier this month, he asked about the business' willingness to process some meat for the troops overseas.
They gladly donated their services and told the school they'd do it again.
“They're over there doing what they do so we can do what we do every day. What's a couple hundred bucks?” said Ed Michael, one of Fourth Avenue's proprietors. “It wasn't that big a deal.”
But it's a big deal for the soldiers serving on the other side of the world, he said.
Waggoner said the school is still open to donations, be it meat or money. Students plan to mail the care packages and still aren't sure how much it'll cost.
“My husband is thrilled about this,” said teacher Karen Garcia. “It just means a lot.”
Contact Rob Rogers at email@example.com or 657-1231.