Story by: Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo - Joint Forces Headquarters
Dated: Fri, Nov 18, 2011
Some of the letters Kids who took part in the Operation Military Kids Veterans Day event wrote to service members. (Photo by Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo)
Latham--Over 50 kids, from both military and non-military families from the Capital District area, came together on Veterans Day to honor past and future hero’s and support each other.
Youth participating in Operation Military Kids joined forces with boys and girls from the Cohoes Community Center on November 11, to honor veterans by putting together a quilt that will be sent to Soldiers serving overseas to remind them of their families back home.
The quilt was made from approximately 300 fabric squares created during a half-dozen New York Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon events. "The quilt squares include drawings and messages to Soldiers from children who have experienced a previous deployment," said Colleen Casey, New York National Guard Youth Program Coordinator. "It’s therapeutic for the kids and very moving for the Soldiers who receive the quilt."
In addition to assembling the quilt, the youth spent time creating "Hero Packs" which will be given to children of Soldiers deploying overseas.
"The hero packs are just one way to say thank you to the families of service members for their sacrifice," said Barbara Kessler from Operation Military Kids. According to Kessler, the Hero Packs have three main elements; appreciation, staying connected and support.
The packs include a letter from a local non-military child expressing their appreciation for the recipients’ loved ones service and the families sacrifice. A letter writing kits composed of stationary, stamps and pen pal information is included so the military child can communicate with their Soldier or other kids. For support, they will find a stuffed animal or small toy as a reminder that they are not alone during this difficult time. Also included in the pack is a list of family resources available should they be needed.
The day was filled with fun activities and included a rock climbing wall, face painting, pizza, ice cream and a veteran speaker.
"This was a great experience and the perfect way to celebrate Veterans Day," said Crystal Bariteau, a school-age youth coordinator for the Cohoes Community Center. "We spent the week teaching the children about Veterans Day through projects and activities, creating holiday cards for Veterans and now they get to have fun and make new friends with military kids."
The event was hosted by the New York National Guard Youth program, which offers programs and services to military youth through safe activities, skills training and peer mentorship.