Students at Franklin High School banded together the week before Valentine's Day to show their support and appreciation for soldiers. Members of FHS’ SWAG (Students With Awesome Goals) Club spearheaded a letter drive to show American soldiers how much they are loved and supported.
The weeklong letter-writing campaign was called, “Operation Soldier Appreciation,” and came equipped with pens, markers and stationery to send letters to men and women on active duty in the military. The goal of the event was to take the extra initiative to show support to soldiers for Valentine's Day because the suicide rate amongst military personnel is at its highest peak during the holiday.
Initially, Jennifer Hogsed, FHS Teacher and SWAG Advisor, suggested that the club do a community service project for the Sandy Hook community.
“We felt this would be especially appropriate since the origins of SWAG stem back to Rachel's Challenge; Rachel was the first victim of the Columbine shooting,” said volunteer Jennifer Turner-Lynn. “After contacting Sandy Hook, they requested that we “pay it forward” and do a service project in honor of their community because they were inundated with donations from around the country. As a result, the students voted to host a “Soldier Appreciation Week” to coincide with Valentine's Day.
SWAG students, advisors, recruiters, and veterans set up a table in the media center lobby for one week, and encouraged students to write letters to former students who were now soldiers as well as sign the Sandy Hook Pledge. More than 350 cards and letters were sent to support the nation's heroes and a video and pledge was sent to Sandy Hook to show them how the student chose to "pay it forward."
Area veterans visited the students throughout the week to show support for the students effort. FHS students took the veterans’ visit as an opportunity to thank them in person for their service and sacrifice.
In addition to showing support for active duty military, FHS students signed and wrote words of encouragement to victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting on a banner. The card was mailed to the Newtown, Conn. school to join the nation in letting Sandy Hook know the country mourns with them.