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Students make Valentines for veterans, service members

It was not the average Valentines Day project that the students in Heather Kerns’ class worked on this year.

The fourth graders at Ironton Elementary wrote Valentines letters that will go to veterans and active military members.

Kerns’ classes have been making the cards for patients at the veterans’ hospital in Huntington for 10 years.

Each year they hear from the medical center that the patients were happy to receive the cards.

“It’s always that they were thrilled with it because a lot of times they’re forgotten,” Kerns said. “It makes them think they’re not forgotten.”

This is the first year the students have written to active servicemen.

The Valentines will go to a unit that includes Staff Sergeant Aaron Hasenauer, a 2004 graduate of Ironton High School.

Hasenauer is serving in Japan at the Misawa Air Base, 400 miles north of Tokyo. He works as a crew chief in the maintenance unit of F-16 fighter planes.

They will also be sent to a unit that includes Senior Airman Matthew Blankenship, a 2002 graduate of IHS.

Blankenship is serving at Camp Taji in Iraq as part of a security forces squadron.

The letter that McKenzie Long, a fourth grade student, wrote was about her thankfulness to those who have served the United States.

“I’m going to thank them for all they’ve done for us,” McKenzie said.

Zoe Bass hopes her cards will help the soldiers and veterans remember a better time.

“Maybe it would make them think of the old times when they weren’t in the war,” Zoe said. “And they can remember those good times.”

The project was more than just community service. It was an opportunity for the students to learn letter writing, citizenship and geography.

Cindy Wade, a fourth grade language arts teacher helped the students with the proper format of a friendly letter.

Kerns used the classroom SmartBoard to display maps of the region to which the letters were sent. Pictures sent from each of the two squadrons made the project personal for the students.

The project helped the students learn about the men and women that are keeping them safe, Kerns said.