Veterans get special thanks from Ranch children

Children at the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center’s Veteran’s Day Camp spent their day forgetting about school and remembering the troops.

Before taking off on a field trip to places such as the USS Midway Museum and Star of India, the campers filled care packages for a Marine unit deployed in Afghanistan, thanking them for their brave military service.

The idea to send care packages to the Marines was inspired by community center receptionist Dimi Manning, whose husband is Marine Staff Sgt. Francis Scott Manning, now two months into serving his second tour in Afghanistan.

“I’m scared, but it’s where he wants to be,” Dimi Manning said, adding that his first tour was six years ago and he has been wanting to go back. “I’m very proud of him.”

She admits she hopes he’s getting it out of his system.

For the last two months, the Manning children, Justice, 8, and Kaley, 5, have gotten to talk to their dad and even see his face by using Skype.

“He’s fighting bad guys,” said Kaley, noting that her dad has said it’s very hot over there and there’s a lot of sand.

On Wednesday, Justice was taking great care to make sure everything fit nicely into his dad’s box. He said that he is sad his dad is in Afghanistan but has high hopes for him.

“I hope he saves the world,” Justice said.

The campers worked fast, packing boxes for the Marines with all kinds of candy, beef jerky, Chapstick, gum, green tea, Oreo cookies and Clif bars. They also filled special requests from the Marine unit as well — such as coffee and creamer, Gatorade mix, Gummy Bears, Pringles, and for one corporal, “Star Wars” books.

The children also wrote letters and drew pictures for the Marines.

“Dear you, I am Jaden. Thank you for helping our country,” read Jaden Hunter’s letter.

Another letter read in pink marker: “I hope you don’t get hert.”