History Of Remember The Troops

The history of Mrs. McKinney’s service project for the soldiers and how Mrs. Werner is continuing it this year.


Josh Thaler

Mrs. McKinney revisits Dallastown after her retirement to help the current volunteer club package the boxes

Emily Stoner, Junior Editor

The year was 1997 and two students approached Health and Phys. Ed. teacher Mrs. McKinney with the idea of a new club.

It was called Volunteer Club and the idea was simple: students would complete service projects with the goal of helping the community.

That was the start of a strong Dallastown tradition.

The first major project they completed was fixing up “the nature center” outside the High School Library and changing it from a weed yard to a beautiful courtyard.

Their next large project was “Remember The Troops.”

It has become one of the largest projects and the one with the biggest tradition.

The project started after the events of September 11, 2001, when terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

“I remember the fear I felt for the hundreds of human beings trapped in the towers as I watched… and seeing men and women jump from the upper towers. I was glued to the television, with tears just streaming down my face,” McKinney explained.

She was majorly impacted by the events of 9/11, and she knew she had to help.

The first thing she did was an unannounced money collection at a soccer game. She brought two large 5- gallon buckets and asked people to donate anything to be sent to New York City with the York YMCA.

“We collected $400.00 at that soccer game… everyone just dug into their pockets, they just wanted to help, no one knew what to do, other than prayers, donations, and flying the flag,” McKinney said.

She came up with the idea of “Remember The Troops” because when she was in high school she would write two letters a month to soldiers stationed in Vietnam. She loved when the soldiers would write back, and wanted the students to have the same experience she had. And so, Remember The Troops began.

It started only in the high school. Students sent letters, candy, snacks, games and clothing to soldiers from the huge deployment to the Middle East following 9/11.

Some of the soldiers wrote back and their letters are framed outside room 294.

Over the years, it has grown to include donations from all of the Dallastown School District. This year, 114 boxes were shipped out to the soldiers.

After McKinney’s retirement last June, the fate of the long-running project was up in the air.

When Mrs. Werner took over as the new advisor of Volunteer Club with Mrs. Murphy as assistant advisor, they knew they had to keep the tradition alive. 

“Honestly, the main reason I took over the Volunteer Club Advisor position is to continue the Remember the Troops project,” Werner said.

Werner is adamant about continuing this service project because her dad

Josh Thaler
A look inside what goes into the packages. Here is a letter from an elementary student along with other snacks.

served in the Air Force

“I am so proud that Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Werner are continuing this program. It is a huge project, but the knowledge that the soldiers receive a gift from home and most importantly letters from students gives me a great sense of accomplishment,” McKinney said.