Log In

Reset Password

Three Schools Prepare To Write Valentines For Soldiers



Text Size

Three Schools Prepare To Write Valentines For Soldiers

By Eliza Hallabeck

Valentine’s Day may be more than two months away, but efforts are starting to collaborate between three schools in Newtown to write letters to soldiers currently serving overseas.

“Right now we’ve got over 2,000 kids who need to write cards and letters,” said Donna Monteleone Randle, the project’s chairperson.

This is the first year students from Sandy Hook School, Reed Intermediate School, and Newtown Middle School will be participating together in the process. For the past three years students from Sandy Hook School have sent cards and letters to military men and women overseas, and last year the school sent 400 letters.

Ms Randle said it boggles her mind that the project started from a comment from her son’s second grade teacher at Sandy Hook School. For the last three years students at the elementary school have chosen the military man or woman to whom they wish to write letters.

“We’re going to try to ramp up getting [other] people to write letters, too,” said Ms Randle. Residents can submit people they know who are serving overseas by filling out a form. The letters can be sent to Connecticut residents or people from other states.

When the day gets closer, Ms Randle said there will be presentations for students to help them understand what serving in the military is like.

Two years ago, she said students from Sandy Hook School wrote letters to Newtown resident Sergeant Major Art Fredericks’ unit. This January, Sgt Major Fredericks will be giving a presentation at Reed Intermediate School, Ms Randle said. 

“He’s so caring and giving,” Ms Randle said, “not only for his unit, but for Newtown.”

Ms Randle, who is now in charge of the project at Reed Intermediate School, said having the students write the letters is beneficial for the students and the service men and women.

 “And it just reflects so wonderfully on our teachers, and the administrators,” said Ms Randle.

Each year new members of the military are searched for, because military service changes from year to year.

“It’s just so exciting,” said Ms Randle. “It’s not that often that you get to work with something that makes everyone happy.”

Ms Randle said when she was serving in Korea with the Second Infantry Division Signal Core in the Army in the Communications Division, her sister, Doreen Monteleone, wrote every single day to her.

“A letter in those days was like gold,” said Ms Randle. 

Giving back, she said, is one of the civic duties everyone wants their children to learn.

“A lot of people don’t understand that a lot of these guys are out there building schools,” said Ms Randle.

At Reed, Ms Randle said, the PTA plans to give postage money to the effort to help with the cost of mailing the letters to the soldiers.

All of the letters and cards that will be made at the schools will have to be written and mailed out by the third week in January in order to reach the soldiers for Valentine’s Day.

“Some of these letters just really touch your heart strings,” said Ms Randle while talking about previous year’s letters.

Some of the letters are students writing to the soldiers about sports, their interests, and life. When people submit the form with the soldier’s name they wish a letter to be sent to, they are also asked to fill out a bit of personal information, like the soldier’s likes and dislikes.

Ms Randle said these forms are used to create lists for teachers to hand to students, and the students write to soldiers who have similar interests with them. If little information was shared about the soldier, then teachers are instructed to have students write letters about general information.

One year, she said, one student had a slight misunderstanding and wrote to a soldier asking, “Are you on a special mission because you are a private?”

To help the teachers direct the students on how to write the letters, Ms Randle said a list of dos, do nots and suggestions are also compiled for the teachers.

Once the students write the letters or cards, a team of volunteers sits down to read them and prepare them to be mailed.

Ms Randle said the soldiers are given a sheet in their letters that gives the school’s address or the teacher’s email address for them to respond to. When return letters are received, Ms Randle said teachers are encouraged to share each of them with their classes.

She said sometimes photos of a soldier’s unit are sent back and sometimes foreign currency are sent back for the student.

“It gives me goose bumps to think about all the things we’ve done over the last three years,” said Ms Randle.

Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply