Nearly 200 "Boxes of Cheer" - decorated shoeboxes full of small gifts - have been successfully delivered to Beaufort-based Marines deployed over the holidays on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Gift items were gathered by high students throughout the district.
Holiday cards were created by middle school students.
Shoeboxes were decorated by elementary school students.
More than $800 in shipping costs was paid with donations from school district employees.
A video of the process was created and posted on the district website, beaufort.k12.sc.us.
The students received a message from one of the Marines, Staff Sgt. Brian Gustafson, copied here in its entirety:
"A BIG THANK YOU!
Thank you to all those who have dedicated time and effort to making the holidays for the Marines of VMFA-312 feel like home. Being away from family and friends can be a difficult and trying time for almost anyone, but when a young Marine, or even an old one, is thousands of miles away from a single family member, the holidays can feel like any other day. We work day in and day out, sometimes without even knowing what day it is. Our days can feel like the same over and over without anything new or exciting happening to lift our spirits. Your thoughts, Christmas cards and gifts go a very long way for all of us aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. For some of our Marines, these may be the only gifts they receive for the Christmas holiday, and because you took the time to think of us, we are thankful. Our holiday season has changed for the better with your gifts and cards decorating our work spaces. The books you have sent keep us busy during our down time. The toothbrushes, toothpaste and tissue paper replenish our needed goods, and your candy and snacks keep our bellies full. Your kind words and best wishes have put us in the holiday spirit, and we have you all to thank. These Christmas presents have by far been the best gifts we have received in the mail, and it was right on time. The presents wrapped and decorated with drawings are better than any store-bought packaging. We even love the glitter all over the boxes. We, the Marines of 312, are grateful for people like you who think of us when we are far away from the ones we love. This holiday season truly has been blessed by you in every way. From all of us here we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
SSgt Gustafson, Brian C.
VMFA-312 FIGHT'S ON