In a show of love and compassion that has come to epitomize our town and schools, hundreds of valentines are on their way to troops around the nation and overseas: from Newtown, with love.
Months of coordination by organizers went into this effort, along with thoughtful direction on where the valentines would go for distribution. Schoolchildren labored over letters and works of art the past few weeks, eagerly packaging the missives with other items — toiletries, snacks, and so on — to make life easier for those serving our country, wherever they are. Community members took the time to bring more than 200 messages of love to the Newtown Youth & Family Services office in support of Operation Heart To Heart, under the umbrella of Valentines For Troops.
What does it matter that our small town makes this celebration of Valentine’s Day one that stretches beyond the borders of our homes and town? A lot. Many of the servicemen and women are not with those they most care about for months on end, let alone that Hallmark special of a day, February 14. Carrying out vital and often uncomfortable and dangerous duties, these men and women need a lift. Care packages and the cards that accompany them can put a smile on a face just when it is most needed.
We don’t witness the reactions, of course; but the thought that a few loving words are making someone, somewhere, beam for a moment is as uplifting to the sender as the recipient.
Valentines For Troops and the care packages that go with teach us empathy. There is so much we take for granted.
Soldiers on active duty find themselves in environments and situations where they rely on Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), and water. Having a packet of powdered drink mix is a sweet thing, literally and figuratively. Packets of flavorings can pep up MREs, and energy bars provide a quick pick-me-up when out in the field. Having a small snack on hand can tide a soldier over when he or she cannot stop for a full meal. A corner store is not just around the corner when deployed afar. Will a familiar package of gum or beef jerky make someone’s day? Will a verbal hug boost spirits? Our townspeople and children are betting that is so.
Valentine’s Day is easily celebrated in the comfort of our town — in the very homes and businesses kept safe by the men and women of our armed services.
Close your eyes and picture troops receiving the packages from Newtown. Valentines, notes, and art work spill out. Smiles ensue.
Open your eyes: we do choose love. Happy Valentine’s Day.
(Love never ends, of course. The American Legion Post 202 will help direct letters and cards any time throughout the year to the appropriate units. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.)