There was one stipulation when Black Creek’s Kelsey Leggett won the state’s Petite Miss title at the 2006 Miss Georgia Girl pageant. She had to give back to the community.
But how does a 4-year-old girl give back?
"They don’t expect too much out of the little ones," said Katie Leggett, Kelsey’s mother. "But they still try to do something."
Kelsey’s "something" turned out to be something pretty special after Miss Georgia Girl Director Penny Stathes suggested collecting cards to send to troops stationed overseas.
But Kelsey decided she’d rather make her own, and by April, her classmates at the Pre-K center in Pembroke had joined in after Kelsey talked to her teacher and Assistant Superintendent Brad Anderson gave his approval.That got the wheels in motion.
Kelsey’s class, taught by Jenny Hendrix, was joined by Lori Melton, Sam Martin and Alice Dowd's classes. By the time they were done, more than 70 of the cards were ready to send to American men and women stationed overseas.
"The cards really are a special gift for our soldiers because they are all different, none of the cards are alike," Hendrix said. "They were made with glue, pictures, stickers, crayons and by tiny little hands. The children were able to try and write words like ‘Army,’ ‘soldier’ and ‘thank you.’ They all personalized their cards by writing their names and writing your name for a preschooler is big stuff."
The boys in Hendrix’ class particularly enjoyed the project, she said.
"The boys loved making the cards because they are amazed by people in the military," Hendrix said. "They thought it was so cool that they could draw a picture of an Army guy and be able to send it to him."
Hendrix thought the project was cool.
"I think this was an excellent idea, because it allowed our small children to get involved and to show their appreciation for our military."
It’s an appreciation her daughter shows often, Katie Leggett said, noting Kelsey asks about the military when they see soldiers from nearby Fort Stewart in camouflage in Pembroke or in movies.
"She asks questions and we explain that they are fighting for us and people are dying every day," Katie said. "It just tears her up. She’s got a big heart. She’s a real loving child."
And Kelsey wasn’t the only one in her family, which also includes dad Tony and younger sister Kyndal and younger brother Konner, to make a card and send it to troops overseas as part of a class project, however. Her older sister Kaylin, a third grader at Bryan County Elementary, took part in a similar project.
"I think it’s wonderful that they were given the opportunity to do something to thank the troops personally," Katie said. "And those little cards were so cute, too."
While the pre-K card project started with Kelsey's involvement in Miss Georgia Girl, a no-makeup, all-natural pageant, pageants are nothing new to all three Leggett girls.
Kelsey and Kyndal won the U.S. National Forestry pageant title in September while Kaylin won the Chatham County crown. The three girls will compete for the state forestry queen crown in their respective age groups next week. But Katie said the project to send cards to troops was special.
"For her to collect all those cards to send to those troops, it’s going to put a smile on someone’s face," Katie said. "It was really wonderful, I thought."