Sara Steier's kindergartners stared in surprise as her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Steier, showed the class a bit of folded-up toilet paper — the amount soldiers are given to use per day when deployed.
"That is definitely not enough toilet paper!" one of them said.
With Veterans Day just a weekend away, Michael Steier and fellow soldier Staff Sgt. Lucas Greff, both military policemen for the U.S. Army, came to Jefferson Elementary School on Friday, Nov. 8, with supplies to teach the students a little about military life.
After telling the students the five branches of the military, they showed them special gum soldiers can use in lieu of a toothbrush, a moist towelette they can use in lieu of hand soap and the food in their MRE (meals ready to eat). One by one, Michael pulled out applesauce, cocoa powder, wheat bread, beef stew, peanut butter, jam and Skittles.
He asked the kids how they thought soldiers heated up their food, then showed them a flameless ration heater.
"This is our heater. This is our oven. This is our microwave and our toaster," Michael Steier said. "You take a little bit of water, put water in there, then you shake this up, mix it up. This gets really hot, so hot you can barely touch it ... We take the beef stew and we put it in there, and then it gets hot and that's our warm meal."
Greff explained the multiple uses for the heater.
"In the military, we want everything to do multiple things ... So for example ... you could use the heater to melt snow to make water for yourself," he said. "You could use the heater to put inside your jacket to keep your chest warm or to keep your hands warm. You can put it in your sleeping bag."
This is something that Michael Steier does every year, upon his wife's request.
"It was a hit then, and has been a hit ever since," Sara Steier said. "Kindergarten has just been the only class that has ever done this, but we’ve been doing it for years, so the kids who are in fifth grade now actually got it when they were in kindergarten, too, so everyone’s experienced it."