Jim Caronis, a proud graduate of old Columbus North High School, thought it only appropriate the students now using the building on Arcadia Avenue should receive recognition for their athletic achievements through helping out with a project near and dear to his heart.
With the aid of LeAnthony Jones at Columbus North International School, which is housed in the old North High School building, Caronis arranged for members of the City League-champion soccer team to pack boxes last weekend as part of Operation Buckeye to ship to troops serving overseas.
Caronis founded the nonprofit organization on the dining room table of his Worthington home in 2006. He said he was inspired to help soldiers abroad by a column in The Columbus Dispatch by the late Mike Harden.
His original goal was to ship 5,000 boxes of personal care items and other articles that are difficult if not impossible to obtain on foreign postings.
Caronis, chairman of Operation Buckeye, said last week more than 25,000 boxes have been sent to U.S. military personnel.
"Even though the economy is tight and there are so many great organizations out there reaching out for donations, we're still running ahead," Caronis said.
In many theaters of operation, he added, especially places such as Afghanistan, troops have little or no access to running water.
"They bathe with baby wipes," Caronis said, so those types of items arriving in boxes from back home are more than appreciated.
The idea of involving students at what is now Columbus North International School (formerly Columbus International High School) was hatched during last summer's North on the Forth reunion for people who graduated from the former high school.
"We're proud of the school, but we're equally proud of the kids who go there," Caronis said.
The boys soccer team, in only a few years of existence, won the City League championship over Briggs High School Oct. 10 in Crew Stadium.
"These kids really want to carry on the tradition of North High School and how well they've done in not only sports, but academics also," Caronis said.
"I thought it would be neat to recognize these young men."
The Lions of Columbus North International follow in the footsteps of 17 different Ohio State University athletic teams in volunteering to pack boxes at the Operation Buckeye headquarters in donated space at 4284 N. High St. in Clintonville, Caronis said.
"If someone worries about the future of America, it won't be because of Ohio State athletes because they're a great bunch of kids," Caronis said.