100 Sixth Graders Prepare Movie Night Care Packages for Deployed Soldiers and Hear First-Hand Experiences from Gold Star Mother Marion Zilinski
LITTLE SILVER, NJ – “This provides the kids with an opportunity to do something which has an immediate impact on another individual. It allows students to experience empathy, responsibility and caring, instead of just being told about it. That’s how they learn and express those values,” said Sylvia Wittenberg, 6th Grade Science Teacher at Markham Place School in Little Silver during the 11th Annual Markham Cares Day.
The goal of the annual school program is for sixth graders to be enlightened by members of the community who make a positive impact and to inspire the students to make a difference. The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund has been involved with the program for all 11 years. The Memorial Fund was founded in honor of Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II, a Middletown resident and graduate of Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, who was killed in action by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005.
Dennis’ mother and father, Marion and Dennis Zilinski, co-founders and board members of the Memorial Fund, spent the day with the students who put together movie night care packages for deployed soldiers, with soups, crackers, pretzels, cookies, candy, and thank you cards they made. The Zilinskis gave each sixth-grade student and teacher a “Markham Cares About Our Troops” t-shirt (pictures attached) in appreciation.
“Freedom is not free. People from all around our country fight for it. Many of those soldiers have to go far away to other countries to do that, leaving behind their kids and spouses. It’s hard. They miss important things in the lives of their children… like birthdays and holidays. Our troops though have important work to do for our country to keep us safe. So, when they receive your boxes filled with goodies, you’re bringing smiles to their faces. Thank you,” said Marion Zilinski to the students during her presentation. Marion Zilinski went on to tell the students that their son Dennis paid the ultimate sacrifice to our country with his life and that her younger son, Matthew, is currently deployed with the National Guard leaving his wife and three children behind.
Peyton Secrest, an 11-year-old, said the presentation he heard was very impactful. “It’s very nice to give back to our troops for all they give to our country. It’s a very good program.” The themes of Markham CARES Day are cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. The 6th grader told us he’ll be proud to wear the t-shirt the Zilinskis gave him.
More About the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund
The Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund was created and founded in 2006 to honor local hero Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. The twenty-three-year-old was a Middletown, New Jersey resident, a Christian Brothers Academy alumnus, and a distinguished West Point graduate. Dennis was a member of the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. Since his untimely death, family and friends have united with the Memorial Fund to provide support to improve the morale and welfare of members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.
One of the main accomplishments of the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund is sponsoring service dogs for wounded soldiers suffering from PTSD and TBI. To date, the Memorial Fund has sponsored more than 100 dogs at a sponsorship of $15,000 per service dog.
Additionally, the Memorial Fund provides scholarships to students at Lt. Zilinski’s alma mater, Christian Brothers Academy and Trinity Hall High School, both in New Jersey. By providing these scholarships, the Memorial Fund invests in the future of high school students who embody the leadership qualities and community spirit of Lt. Zilinski.
To help us raise awareness about all the good we do, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Donations may be sent to: Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 124, Adelphia, NJ 07710 or made online at runwithdennis.org.