In November, students in Elise Robichaud’s grade 3 morning and afternoon language arts classes collected candy and created cards for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends more than 150,000 care packages to U.S. service members, new recruits, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors and care givers.
The students also sent cards to local veterans, including Harker alumni who have served in the military. Then, in December, the students were treated to a surprise visit by one of the vets they had written to, who came to their classroom to personally thank them for their efforts.
“My little ones made 163 cards that were mailed out on Nov. 10, and they collected 72 pounds of candy! I’m very proud of them!” enthused Robichaud. The surprise visit from Captain Michael Gerold (a friend of fellow grade 3 language arts teacher Heather Russell), who was injured during his service, really brought the Veteran’s Day project full circle, she added.
“It is a rare opportunity when the students can see a recipient of their service projects, and it was a great experience for them,” Russell recalled.
The students collected 6.5 bags of non-chocolate candies, 17 bags of chocolate candies, and a bag containing toothbrushes, dental floss and toothpaste for Operation Gratitude.
Going the extra mile, Robichaud designed a PowerPoint presentation for her students, featuring veterans who are Harker teachers and friends of faculty members, saluting them for their service. Among them was upper school math teacher Anthony Silk, who several years back spoke to lower school students about his experiences in the U.S. Navy flying the electronic warfare plane the EA-6B Prowler. (https://news.harker.org/math-teacher-and-veteran-speaks-to-grades-4-and-5-on-veterans-day/)
“I wanted my third graders to see some of the faces of the people who have served or who are currently serving our country, so I made this PowerPoint to share with them,” explained Robichaud, who had previously put out a request to staff to provide names of any military members they knew personally, so that the students could write to them.
“It means so much to the third graders to actually know some of the people who are getting the cards,” she noted.