Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

November 24, 2011 at 7:29am

Airmen beautification project benefits school, Tillicum community

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Cold weather and the threat of rain did not stop volunteers from showing up at Tillicum Elementary on Veteran's Day for a project to beautify the school grounds.

Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron joined Vietnam veterans, citizens of the community, more than two dozen Target employees and representatives from non-profit organization The Mission Continues at the Lakewood school to improve the look of school grounds.

The Mission Continues is a St. Louis-based organization whose mission is to provide every returning veteran with an opportunity to serve again as a citizen leader "We match each veteran with a certain non-profit, and they can stay with them for seven months," said Lyndsey Hodges, director of Special Projects. "We even give them a stipend for the cost of living." Participating in this unique program allows returning Servicemembers not only to give back to communities, but also to help them transition back to civilian life.

For the Nov. 11 beautification project, The Mission Continues partnered with the Target Corporation. Target gives five percent of its profits to schools and communities in areas that it operates, oftentimes donating upward of $3 million a week. Randy Kroum, one of the district facility managers for Target in the Seattle area, was the logistical brains of the operation. "We really want to start partnering with veterans groups," he said, "and who better than The Mission Continues, and to also volunteer at Tillicum Elementary." Target employees came from various locations, with individuals coming in from the West Seattle stores.

While Tillicum Elementary School principal Taj Jensen considers the school a ‘hidden gem,' he also admits that the school and community needed the boost the project provided. "Everyone takes pride in this school, whether or not they are affiliated with (it)," he said. "Even Soldiers with the medical brigade from Fort Lewis come down to play basketball with the kids." Stressing the importance of this project, students and teachers alike took pride in pitching in:  Students decorated windows for the veterans, and teachers, like Ruth Jones, even bought shrubs on their own.

Though everyone worked well into the early afternoon, the importance of the day was not lost on them. At 11 a.m., they all put down their shovels and rakes to pause for a moment of silence in honor of Veteran's Day.

For more information about The Mission Continues, visit

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