It started at a Jets game. Staples High School sophomore Cole Devine sat with Michael Murphy, one of his father’s work colleagues.
Michael mentioned the birth of his upcoming child. He also talked about the Army Reserves — he’s a captain.
Not long after, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Cole had a cousin in the military, who’d been seriously injured by an IED. But — like most Westport teenagers — Cole had not thought a lot about America’s servicemen and women.
Michael’s story resonated, however. “He wanted to fight for our country. But it seemed like he was making such a huge sacrifice,” Cole says.
Cole decided to do something in return. With Christian Myers — a friend who also had a relative in the service — and Matthew Boehmer, they created Operation Care Package.
Cole asked his favorite teacher, Drew Coyne, to serve as advisor. The social studies instructor happily agreed.
On Tuesday, a couple of dozen Staples students met. They assembled packages — filled with books, magazines, blankets and snacks — to send to Michael’s platoon, and one other. They’ll reach Kandahar and Jalalabad in time for the holidays.
Funding came from club members themselves. They’ve also set up a GoFundMe page. The group will send more packages in the months ahead.
“At Staples, most kids don’t have this on their daily minds,” Cole says.
“But we live the way we do because of our military. They do so much. Giving back is very important.”