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In Honor of 'Chachi,' Six Girls Launch Project to Raise Money for Wounded Marines

A handful of Green Valley Elementary friends will spend the summer collecting recyclables for funds to give to foundation in honor of Chachi. Can you help them out?

It started with a letter, written by 8-year-old Sydney Chu, a week after school ended.

It was to the Corral family -- the family of , in Afghanistan during combat operations.

It was written by an 8-year-old, but careful, legible and with the charming misspelling of the word "guys" -- spelled "gise." (View the letter here.)

Sydney wrote that her, her 7-year-old sister Emme and some friends weren't going to summer school this year and wanted to spend their days collecting cans and bottles to "raise money for hurt or injured soldiers from the war."

The McCormac sisters, Megan, 11, and Kaylan, 7, as well as the Warburg sisters Ella, 12, and Honor, 7, are also helping out. All of the girls went to Green Valley Elementary this year.

The money would go to the Semper Fi Foundation, a group the Corral family started, and, just as important Denise Corral -- Chachi's mom -- said, raising the awareness of the sacrifice Marines and their families make for this country every day.

On Wednesday morning, after dropping off the first batch of recyclables in Danville, Sydney was handed $24.17.

"I kind of though it'd be nice raising money for the Semper Fi Foundation and Chachi," Sydney said with a handful of money.

They then headed to San Ramon and dropped off an additional $37 in recyclables.

No TV

Sydney and Emme's father, Sherman Chu, introduced the idea to the girls. He has been taking photos at all of the Corral family events honoring Chachi since the candlelight vigil in Blackhawk Plaza. Sherman, a 19-year professional photographer, found the Corral family by accident.

"I didn't know the family. They had a candlelight vigil in Blackhawk Plaza one night and I ran into a friend of mine. She told me about the vigil and that the solider who died was her cousin," he said. "I ended up taking photos for that event and every event for the family after."

One of those events was in front of the Veterans Memorial Building with a battlefield cross.

So, as school ended, Sherman told his girls they needed to do something.

"They weren't going to summer school and I told them you're not going to watch TV all summer," he said.

Sherman suggested a project for Chachi and that's when Sydney wrote the letter. She said when she wrote it she was thinking about the soldiers, their families and what to do to take care of them.

"Sherman came over with his little girls and they asked permission to do this project," Denise Corral said. "The little girls handed me that letter and the first thing I thought was, 'What a great dad (Sherman) is.'"

Corral said she's thrilled with this idea.

"Since our son's death, public awareness has been the goal," she said. "Keeping in the public eye that soldiers are still in Afghanistan, dying every day. It doesn't get reported, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening."

A military family

Ella and Honor Warburgs' mother, Shannon, says the project really resonates. Her father, a naval officer, died in the line of duty. She also has one brother and one sister in the Army and another brother in the Navy. Her sister was deployed two times to Iraq and one brother in the Navy was deployed to Afghanistan.

"We know what it's like to have a family member deployed and then hold your breathe for nine to 12 months," Shannon said.

Both Ella and Honor made mention of their deployed aunt and uncle.

"My aunt and uncle were both deployed. I know what it feels like to have them deployed," the 12-year-old Ella said. "It's really hard."

"My aunt was deployed to Afghanistan two times and my uncle was deployed once to Iraq," 7-year-old Honor said. "I was really worried about them."

'Kids can make a big difference'

The six girls will continue to collect bottles and cans throughout the summer. They have made posters and a public service announcement and will also be part of the Fourth of July parade, walking up and down the parade route collecting recyclables.

All six of the girls expressed their excitement for helping the Semper Fi foundation, wounded marines and their families.

"I really like it because I can help families. I think it's very nice," Honor said.

"I think it's great that we'll be able to help wounded soldiers and their families," Megan said.

"I think I want people to see that kids can make a big difference. We can help them get through hard times," said Ella.

But maybe 7-year-old Emme puts it best.

"They gave us so much, and I want to give them something," she said.

What did they give us, she was asked.

"Freedom."

If you'd like to help out the girls, send an email to Sherman Chu at sherman@shermanchu.com.

To view the public service announcement staring the six girls asking for your bottles and cans go .

Cheri Goodson July 02, 2012 at 04:45 AM
This is an awesome idea and I admire those that got it started.....especially Sydney for getting in stated. I would be happy to donate my cans and bottles on a weekly (or monthly basis). Please let me know where you want them dropped of. Cheri G.
sherman July 02, 2012 at 07:05 AM
Hi Cheri, Thank you for your interest in donating your cans and bottles, please e-mail Sydney at recyclesummerproject2012@yahoo.com to arrange a pick-up or drop-off. We appreciate all the help we can get, but our project will sadly end when the girls return to school at the end of August. Happy Summer, The Chu Family
Bill Roberts July 02, 2012 at 05:16 PM
When I showed this article to my daughter Alannah (9yrs) she thought this was AWSOME and said she has been recycling for vacation money but wants to help out your fund. I will contact you for drop off info, we have alot... Good luck and thank you for all you are doing
Terry Parris Jr. July 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Awesome Bill!!
sherman July 02, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Very much appreciated! The outpouring of support for my daughter's summer project has been just amazing! Thank you! Sherman

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