Happy Valley students create Valentine’s Day cards for veterans

Valentine’s Day is a day where loved ones show one another how much they care, but loved ones are not always present, and those who work to ensure their loved ones’ safety often do so alone.

Ashleigh Drake, one of the Counselors for Happy Valley Middle School, said she wanted her students to learn about the value of serving their community. Her solution: Valentine’s Day cards.

“We set up a table in the cafeteria with blank cards for students to fill out,” Drake said. “My classes then decorated them.”

These Valentine’s Day cards are not meant for middle school crushes, however. Instead, Drake’s students are sending the cards to veterans across the country.

“We are going to send them to Operation Gratitude, who will send them out,” she said.

While she said the project did not have any rhyme or reason to it, Drake did say the project is part of a series of efforts she is putting on to create a different culture among the students.

“We are trying to teach about kindness in the school, and we wanted to extend it to those outside the community,” she said.

After everything was said and done, Drake said the students filled out and created between 300 and 400 Valentine’s Day cards in total.

“I am really proud of them,” she said. “You could see their excitement as they worked on them.”

Drake said she is planning for other projects for the students to do over the course of this year and next as part of this “Kindness Initiative,” including a food drive during Thanksgiving and a project with Ivy Hall Nursing Home.

She said the projects aim to challenge the culture surrounding middle-schoolers.

“Kids can have a narrow mentality at this age,” Drake said. “We want to teach them how to make a difference.”

As a woman from a military family, she said the project spoke to her, as her dad was in the Air Force.

“I want to help them be aware of the world around them, to see people going through their struggles,” Drake said.

She said this was especially true for veterans and active members of the armed forces.

“We want them to understand the reason they have the freedoms they have, because of veterans,” Drake said.

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