PALM COAST, Florida (June 7, 2016) — In preparation for the July Fourth holiday, children from ages 2-12 composed greeting cards and thank you letters to hospitalized veterans and those in local nursing homes at Flagler Beach’s June First Friday event.
With assistance from and materials supplied by Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA) Unit # 86, children in the Kids Zone at Veterans Park were invited to select a blank flag or stars greeting card and envelope, write a message or draw a picture for a veteran, and decorate the finished product with patriotic stickers. Once completed, children “mailed” their messages in an on-site mailbox marked for Veteran Mail. The completed cards will be distributed to veterans by auxiliary members prior to the Fourth of July.
Commented DAV Auxiliary Commander Claudia Parker, “Our activity was more academic than the fun-type; we had competition from the bounce playground equipment and face painting tent, so we had to be innovative. In addition to being decked-out in red, white and blue, with patriotic gear and flags in abundance, we rewarded each completed greeting with a red, white and blue cookie, a stars and stripes pencil, and a big smile and thank you from the auxiliary members.”
DAVA members also took another innovative approach in recruiting their kid ‘customers’. They moved among the crowd and talked about the activity with parents, asking about family members who were veterans or presently in the military. From that point on the flow of kids to the tent was constant, with parents even overseeing their kids’ work. One mother even commented that her husband was deployed to Iraq, so the activity was very meaningful for both her and her daughter.
Senior Vice Commander, Jennifer Hanger, was pleased with the seriousness with which the children were treating the project. “We had a board with samples of messages that could be copied, but most children wanted to say something special, especially after asking for and getting our permission to send their cards directly to family members recently returned from overseas. I’m just glad I’m a good speller—some of those Middle Eastern place names are tough!”
“All our ‘customers’ were very receptive to the activity,” said Carolyn Karpinski, auxiliary member and one of the main organizers of the DAVA event. “We were busy all evening such that, by night’s end, we ran out of cards. Now that’s a real sign of our careful planning and execution, a testament to the patriotism of our children, and a tribute to our veterans!”