Markers, stickers, boxes and stencils littered the tables of the Rienzi Elementary School library as students collaborated in an effort to honor and encourage Mississippi soldiers.
Using their art to communicate the gratitude in their hearts, the students decorated mailing boxes which will later be filled with personal items and shipped to our troops.
Each year, local artists, High School art teachers and their pupils are commissioned to work with students in area schools as part of the "Artists In the Schools" program.
The project is funded through grants by the T.J. Pierce Foundation, C.A.R.E., Mississippi Arts Commission and Toyota.
Contributing artists encourage the youth by helping them to realize their artistic visions and potential.
Artist, Tony Bullard did his project at Glendale and Kossuth Elementary Schools and has worked with six different classrooms of third graders.
Jennifer LeGoff (H.S. art teacher at Corinth) will be visiting Corinth Elementary School later this month to assist in their project.
Crystal Bryde (H.S. art teacher for Alcorn County Schools) will be working with the 3rd graders at Alcorn Central Elementary School at a later date.
"We always do art projects, but this time, I thought we'd do something for someone else," said Judith Lowery as she studied the colorful drawings and messages.
"Stay safe and come home soon," read one of the boxes.
Hearts and rainbows were painted on another to remind those serving of brighter days ahead.
Lowery revealed that she gained inspiration from a news article she read about people sending shoe boxes to soldiers serving overseas.
She supervised the children as they added their own decorations and stylings to the packages, often stopping to admire their handiwork and praise them for their cleverness.
"I really enjoy working with the students and seeing what they each come up with," said Lowery. "I know they enjoy it as well."
The children, absorbed in their individual projects paid little attention to anything else that was going on around them and seemed content as they busied themselves with their art.
"I need Care Bear's stickers," said one little girl as he skipped happily to the front of the room, her unruly curls flapping behind her as she scrambled to finished her project.
After retrieving her desired item from a basket, she hurried back to her seat and began placing her embellishments in their designated locations.
All around the crowded room, little faces wrinkled in concentration or lit up with profound joy as masterpieces were crafted and perfected.
Somewhere around 50 boxes are expected to be completed by the third graders.
The care packages will soon be welcomed into the appreciative hands of soldiers, longing for a little slice of home.