In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, one first grade classroom at Center School in Mattapoisett was busy working together November 23 making cards and care packages to show their gratitude for the troops serving oversees.
The class of 16 students sat in groups along desks loaded with paper, markers, crayons, and shiny star stickers, carefully drawing images of American flags, hearts, and smiling people, and addressing them all to a soldier with ties to the community, Sergeant Kasey Koch, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
Gail Shovlin’s daughter, Sophie Bozzo, is a student in Jennifer Aarsheim’s first grade class. For Veteran’s Day, Shovlin encouraged her daughter to make a card for a family member who served in Vietnam as a way to thank him for his service.
“And it brought a tear to his eye,” said Shovlin. “And I said, ‘we could do a lot more of that.’”
Thanksgiving, said Shovlin, is the perfect time to show gratitude for the service and sacrifice of veterans and the troops serving abroad. Making cards and writing notes of thanks seemed like a great idea to Shovlin, who shared her idea with Aarsheim as an activity in which the entire class could participate.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Aarsheim. “To give thanks … For the little kids to understand that, I think is important.”
Shovlin and Aarsheim asked students’ parents to donate snacks, toiletries, and other useful items to create care packages to send along with the thank you cards. Shovlin said the response was great indeed. She decided she would attempt to locate some local soldiers to whom she could address the cards and the care packages to bring the project a little closer to home for the students and the recipients.
“And Jenn [Aarsheim] was able to find a friend whose son just came back from Afghanistan,” said Shovlin. He was able to provide a name of a fellow soldier and friend who was still serving there.
Thanksgiving, said Shovlin, is a time of year when one is reminded to give thanks, which makes the thank you letters and care packages more meaningful in general.
“We’re using this as a way to thank, as opposed to consumerism,” said Shovlin. “And kids like making cards, so this is good.”
First-grader Emily Brzezinski drew a large card with hearts, sunshine, and a picture of herself, smiling, standing upon green grass. Her card read, “Thank you for ceping are cunchere [sic]safe.”
Blake Moreau was enthusiastically penning his message to Koch, writing, “Thank you for serving our country…”
“Thank you for being brave and protecting our country,” wrote Sasha V., signing it with love.
After finishing their cards and gathering the contents for the care packages, the students joined together to feast on some Thanksgiving treats, such as nuts, raisins, fruits, and of course, brightly covered turkey cupcakes.
By Jean Perry