Thanks to the efforts of an FCCLA project created by three Waconia High School sophomores, the holiday season will be a little brighter for area veterans and members of the military who are serving overseas.
Jessica Stangret, Laura Farlow and Marri Saunders are working on three-part community service project that focuses on veterans. To start, the sophomores created two giant cards that thank veterans for their service and had them signed by Waconia High School students. The cards will be given to the VFW and American Legion in Waconia.
For the second part of the project, the trio encouraged students at Clearwater Middle School to donate items for care packages that will be sent in the coming weeks to local military personnel that are overseas. The third part of the project had the sophomores visiting Bayview and Southview elementary schools on Veterans Day. They worked with the fourth grade students, who wrote letters and made cards for the care packages.
“We tried to connect it to the community as much as we could; that’s why we included all of the different schools,” said Farlow, who explained that the project was designed from its inception to honor both active and retired members of the military who hail from Waconia. “We looked at similar (care package) programs but we wanted to do something from scratch that really represents Waconia.”
Stangret said the group started planning the project in late September. She has a cousin serving overseas and the idea of bringing a little bit of Waconia to area service men and women was appealing to the trio, which plans to submit the project under the National Programs in Action category in upcoming FCCLA competitions this school year. All three of the students first got involved in FCCLA when they were in the fifth grade.
While visiting with the fourth graders, the trio talked about the importance of Veterans Day.
“We wanted to make sure the kids know these soldiers are risking their lives so we can live a normal life here,” said Farlow, who thanked all of the teachers for letting them spend some class time with their students.
Stangret said many of the fourth graders already had an appreciation for veterans.
“We noticed that the kids knew to say, ‘Thank you for being there so we can go to school’ and things like that. It put a smile on my face to see that,” she said.
The group is hoping the community can help them finish the care package portion of the project.
The students are working with area businesses and organizations to come up with postage for the packages. They are also looking for more names and addresses of local service men and women that they can send care packages to. They also will still accept items for the care packages, such as non-melting candy, small games, gum, toothpaste and hygiene products. Items may be dropped off at the main office at Waconia High School.
So far, the students say the project has been a great experience for them.
“There are a lot of people who are willing to help in the Waconia community,” Stangret said. “You just need to give them the opportunity to help. We are looking forward to putting a smile on (the service men and women’s faces) who don’t get to see their families over the holidays.”
“Through this project, I’ve learned a lot about being thankful for soldiers and veterans,” Farlow said. “I’ve learned more about what the retired soldiers in Waconia do for us.”
If the project proves successful, the students said they might bring it back for the student service day held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in February.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]