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Care packages and valentines will be sent from Newtown to members of the armed services over the coming weeks, thanks to the efforts of those that participated in this year’s Valentines For Troops effort.
Each year the Valentines For Troops program, previously offered through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 308, sends letters and care packages to members of the armed services. After being written, letters from local students and other participants are proofread by volunteers and sent with care packages.
This year the program is being offered through the revitalized Newtown American Legion Post 202.
Valentines For Troops Chairperson Donna Monteleone Randle explained she is working with American Legion District 3 Commander Mike Kellette on the program this year.
At Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, a collection was held throughout January for donations of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other goods to fill care packages. Head O’ Meadow lead teacher Carol Danenberg said the school’s families were generous with contributions for the care packages. Students also wrote letters, and fourth graders in the School Community Team worked on January 23 to fill bags with the donated items and letters. This year the school’s Valentines For Troops items will be sent to Head O’ Meadow secretary Laurie Martinelli’s nephew and Marine Patrick Magee’s unit, which is currently serving in Europe.
According to Ms Randle, students at Newtown High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School, along with participants through the Newtown Youth & Family Services (NYFS) Operation Heart to Heart program also took part in the Valentines For Troops effort this year.
NYFS announced on January 29 that it collected more than 200 valentines from the community. Students at NHS and Country Kids Child Care, and other groups, participated in Operation Heart to Heart. According to NYFS Executive Director Candice Bohr, Matt Ariniello, who oversees operations and development at NYFS, oversaw the Operation Heart to Heart program, which collected letters for the Valentines For Troops program.
Ms Bohr said some of the cards “were quite amazing,” with detailed artwork.
“A lot of love was put into them,” she added.
NYFS’s valentines were sent to the post office on January 29.
Sandy Hook School is set to finalize its Valentines For Troops in early February.
Along With Mr Magee’s unit, Ms Randle said this year’s valentines will also be shipped to troops in Texas and the National Guard.