CEDARVILLE — Cedarville Middle School students recently took time to write letters of support and appreciation to members of the armed forces and their families this holiday season.
Each letter they wrote was added to Christmas card that will be sent through A Million Thanks, an organization that has provided more than nine million personal letters from a grateful nation to soldiers serving in war zones, veterans, VA patients, and military families.
The school teamed up with Progressive Insurance, which donated more than 600 Christmas cards while students and school staff brought in their own cards for the project. Each card contained a personal letter from a student, staff member, or member of the Cedarville community. The goal was to uplift those in uniform through a show gratitude, respect, and support.
“The holidays are especially tough on our service men and women,” said middle school teacher Drew Statt, the project organizer. “Some of whom will be far from family and friends this Christmas. I shared the idea that we should say ‘thank you’ for that sacrifice; our amazing students just ran with it. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from our kids.”
The original goal was for each of the 140 students at Cedarville Middle School to write one letter, but students knew that wasn’t enough. Several even went above and beyond, writing more than 20 personal letters to add to the project total.
“My grandpa who was in the Air Force recently passed away and that motivated me to say thank you to others for their sacrifice,” said seventh grader Keagan Burns, who was one of those students to write more than one letter. “This was that opportunity to honor him.”
The letters students shared were heartfelt and designed to let service members know how much their efforts are appreciated. Each student was encouraged to be personal and positive in their message.
Eighth grader Cassie Graham wrote in one of her letters, “I’m glad we have people like you in the world. I know it must be hard not seeing your family during the holidays. Just think about how happy they will be when you finally come home. Thank you for being so brave and helping our country.”
In addition to supporting the military, students also felt themselves uplifted by the writing campaign. They learned a lot about what it means to serve and sacrifice through their own connections to service members and by sharing with each other the letters they wrote.
“Without (the military) our lives would be very different. I get to know that a soldier out there is getting a Christmas card from me,” student Emma Minor said.
Seventh grader Zoe Digel added, “My first thought was that writing letters would be a challenge. In today’s world there is not enough of us moved by the bravery of our soldiers. This is how we show how grateful we should be for the soldiers that fight for us.”
By the end of the week, Cedarville students had written 675 total letters. These will be sent to A Million Thanks, which works with the Pentagon to distribute letters to deserving service members around the world and to veterans and military families at home. A Million Thanks accepts cards and letters year round from the public to distribute to the military. More information can be found at e www.AMillionThanks.org
Statt hopes to make this project an annual tradition at Cedarville Middle School and has already expanded next year’s goal to reach even more service members.