Marine's dying wish turns to reality

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of school supplies will be sent over seas to help students trying to receive an education. During the Gulfport High School pep rally Friday supplies were presented to one woman who is helping make those students achieve their goal.

Pens and Paper for Peace is the name of the project in memory of Matthew Freeman. Freeman was serving in the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan. While there, he noticed local children were struggling for school supplies. He said they treasured those items more than anything else. After Freeman was killed in the line of duty his family wanted to carry on his compassion for helping those children in need of school supplies.

The crowd roared with enthusiasm preparing to hand over their generous donations.

Theresa Freeman said, "My husband, Matthew Freeman, when he deployed to Afghanistan, he was very impressed with how the children were hungry for education and paper. They wanted that more than food and he told his mom that the last time he talked to her."

So, Freeman's mother and his widow Theresa Freeman decided Matthew's legacy could live on through the lives of children.

Freeman said, "I contacted the student council specifically because I thought that would be a great avenue to take this on. Matthew and I were actually in student council together. He was the president I was the vice president so it seemed very fitting."

Her proposition for Gulfport High School students was to help out the Pens and Paper for Peace Project by donating school supplies that would go to other children around the world.

Christian Baswell said, "Student council decided to make it kind of a class competition. That way we figured we would get the most out of that and we got a ton, it was great."

Student Council President and Senior, Christian Braswell, presented a shopping cart full of supplies to Freeman during the school's pep rally.

Christian Baswell said, "Pens, paper, highlighters, markers, crayons. It makes me and the student body feel really well because we it isn't just to win.  It's to help out everybody and we're all happy about that."

Freeman said the student's dedication and generosity is truly amazing.

Theresa Freeman said, "I can just say wow. I'm just blown away by how much they have come together for the project."

More than 5,000 items were collected from the student body. The Senior Class brought in more than 3,000 items alone.

Freeman said the school supplies are being delivered by military transport.  She said the project has been going on for about six months and expects the supplies from Gulfport high will be donated in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.