Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Eliana Uvalli, 9, gives 1st Lt. Andy Zelechoski strict instruction on how to draw a squirrel Friday at Mesa Elementary School. “He’s small. And draw him on a hill,” Uvalli said. The airmen visited Mesa on Friday to help the students make Valentine’s Day
By Sarah Meyer: Freedom New Mexico
Third-graders at Mesa Elementary School had their hands full of scissors, glue, pens and colored construction paper and their hearts full of caring Friday afternoon as they worked with Cannon Air Force Base airmen to create “Valentines for Vets.”
The handmade Valentine cards will go to military members deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As she helped Jaleel Lee cut out construction paper hearts, Staff Sgt. Sherron Drayton said letting servicemembers know they’re cared for is important.
“They’re the reason I’m able to move forward,” she said. “When I was in the desert and received cards, I really appreciated it.”
Jaleel’s card included this statement: “We really want to thank you for fighting for us.”
“I want you to help our country and I want you to win,” third-grader Madison Dial wrote in her card.
2nd Lt. Ryan Bamford said many deployed servicemembers don’t have anyone sending them care packages.
“It’s a pretty nasty environment sometimes,” he said. “It’s nice to get things sometimes and know that people care about the effort you’re putting in.”
The event was organized with the school through the Cannon Air Force Base’s Company Grade Officers Club.
“I think it’s really cool to write from here to soldiers in Iraq,” Chance Mitchell said.
“This project really rocks,” Tate Kuchta said.
Benjamin Blanco said he had never met an airman before Friday.
“It’s cool to be meeting people in the Air Force,” Coty Reed said. “We’re making cards for people in the Air Force that can’t really talk to their family. They’ll be proud to know that someone here is thinking of them.”
School personnel helped with the project, too.
Librarian Kelly Martin said it was great to see military personnel, school staff and parents working with the children on the project. “The Valentine’s cards show that we support them and support all they do for our country.”
Chris Cook, who regularly substitutes at Mesa, said it was fun for the students to interact with the airmen, and impressive to see how eager the airmen were to help the children.