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Vilonia students send letters to veteransOriginally Published December 16, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 14, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.
VILONIA Lara Renfroe’s instructions to her second-grade students at Vilonia Elementary School were explicit: “Today, we are writing friendly letters to veterans to show we appreciate them.
“Use ‘Dear Veteran’ or ‘Dear Soldier’ as your greeting,” she told her students, printing those salutations on the blackboard for them to copy onto the inside of Christmas cards. “Tell them what it is you want to tell them — ‘Thank you for what you do for us’; … ‘I hope you get to see your family soon. I know you miss them.’ After you write your letter, you can draw something on the card and color it if you want to.”
Renfroe’s students, as well as others in second, third and fourth grades at the school, were taking part in the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, co-sponsored by Pitney Bowes Inc. Cards are sent to the American Red Cross for distribution, screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes, then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers. The cards are then sent to military personnel around the world, especially those who are hospitalized.
This is the second year for the local school to participate in the program, which is supported by the Cadron Post Chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. Carolyn Frazier of Vilonia, chairwoman of the Cadron Post Chapter Service for Veterans Committee, said the Vilonia students wrote 387 Christmas cards this year.
Frazier, who calls herself a “happily retired second-grade teacher” from Vilonia Elementary School, said, “I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the teachers. They tell me this activity leads to
classroom discussion about the military and military service, about people being hospitalized and separated from their families at Christmastime. I think the children really learn something from it.”
Frazier said one fourth-grade teacher, Paula Kittle, suggested writing the Christmas cards next year in November when the students are learning about Veterans Day.
“She is from a military family and thought it might be better to tie it into Veterans Day activities,” Frazier said.
“Plus, that would give me a head start on it,” Frazier said with a laugh, noting that the Christmas cards had to be mailed to the American Red Cross by Dec. 7.
“Overall, I think this is a very worthwhile project,” she said. “It brings about conversation about veterans and the sacrifices they make to keep us free.”
For more information on the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, visit the American Cross website, www.redcross.org.