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Children’s Valentines cheer veterans

Seventh annual Valentines for Veterans drive brings smiles to the faces of veterans and first responders

Thousands of handmade Valentine’s cards were collected at Congressman Denny Heck’s office and distributed to veterans and first responders throughout the South Sound. Photo credit: Denny Heck’s office

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Beginning in 2013, Congressman Denny Heck from Washington's 10th district has been helping school children of the South Sound show their appreciation for veterans -- and, since 2018, first responders as well -- by providing an opportunity for them to hand-design and craft special Valentine's Day cards to be given to some of the South Sound's heroes.

For the past seven years, students from multiple schools around the South Sound, and from all grade levels, have responded by making hand-crafted Valentine's cards which are then collected at one of Heck's two district offices to be distributed to veterans and first responders in Pierce, Mason and Thurston counties in time for Valentine's Day. So far, more than 30,000 cards have been made and distributed through the program. This year, 65 schools have participated, including Beachwood Elementary, Meriwether Elementary, and Hillside Elementary on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

"Every year I'm impressed with the incredible artwork and heartfelt messages South Sound students pack into their cards to first responders and veterans," said Congressman Heck. "Our students know the service and sacrifice involved in keeping our community safe, and they're always eager to share their gratitude."

Heck began the Valentines for Veterans program in 2013 because he realized the importance of encouraging the connection between the military and the community in the 10th district. In 2018, he added first responders to the program in order to show the community's appreciation for their heroic response to the Amtrak train tragedy in DuPont.

"In a world full of emails and text messages, a handwritten card is a special memento that any person can appreciate," said Heck. "Students in the South Sound have big hearts, and they do an amazing job on their Valentines every year. This is one small way to give our heroes a new keepsake for their desk or fridge illustrating our appreciation for how they protect and serve this community." 

Heck continued, "We are privileged to live among more than 81,000 veterans in the South Sound, and we have hundreds of thousands of creative students to help us out by making these beautiful Valentines. Every year, the cards from our talented students pour in, and there is nothing better than seeing the look on the veterans' faces when we make the delivery." 

Heck believes this program teaches students the importance of demonstrating their gratitude and hopes that it will continue for many years to come. "Simply put, Valentine's Day is about more than inhaling sugar," he said. "This program is a wonderful way to say ‘thank you' to the veterans and first responders of our community." 

To learn more about the Valentines for Veterans program and how the students in your school can participate in next year's drive, contact Congressman Denny Heck's Pierce County office at 253.533.8332 or his Thurston/Mason County Office at 360.459.8514.

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