GLEN ELLYN – Glenbard West High School sophomore Nuam Kim wants to let veterans know how thankful she is for their service.
Kim and her fellow Glenbard West students on Feb. 1 participated in Valentines for Vets, an annual event where students come together to create cards and letters to thank hospitalized veterans and those serving in the military. Students from all four Glenbard schools participated in the event at their respective schools.
"I wrote about how thankful I was that they [were willing] to sacrifice their lives for our country and for my family," Kim said. "I want them to know that we appreciate what they have done for us. I just wanted to show my thankfulness."
Glenbard's Advocating Character Through Service Committee sponsored food, music and art supplies for the event. Retired U.S. Army Capt. Bill Dallman said he was impressed with the efforts of the students.
"For any vet receiving any of these is just very special for them," Dallman said. "They realize that people care about them."
Dallman has three children who attended Glenbard West. One of his children, James Dallman, attended West Point Academy and became a U.S. Army officer.
Lane Reed, who was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, agreed.
"You've got the internet and cellphones these days, but when you're away from home, a small token like this can really go a long way," he said. "And so many of these kids that are overseas are [only] a year older than these students. Being over there means you are away from your family, and it's tough. And you get something like this, and it makes a big difference in someone's life."
The idea for Valentines for Vets came from Gina Thorson, public relations manager for the village of Glendale Heights. Thorson died in 2012.
This was the third year Glenbard West junior Dryver Larrison participated in Valentines for Vets.
"My mom is one of the volunteers here," Larrison said. "I have veterans in my family, and I think it's just a really good way to help them. It's just a way to say, 'I'm looking out for you.'"
Glenbard Student and Community Projects Coordinator Gilda Ross said she was impressed so many kids decided to stay after school to participate in the event.
"These kids walk in the door, and some of them got on the bus at 6:30 a.m. to get to school," Ross said. "And there's a bus waiting for them to take them home. They're coming in here to do something nice for someone else. These cards are going to put a smile on someone's face. These people did so much for us, it's our turn to give back. And we're hoping to encourage the kids to do more volunteerism when they can fit it into their busy schedules."