Forest Glen thanks the troops

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, November 24, 2011

This Christmas, soldiers who are overseas and away from their homes will be getting words of encouragement, appreciation and love from Suffolk.

During the past couple of weeks, students at Forest Glen Middle School have been taking time to write holiday cards to soldiers as part of the Friends of Our Troops project, which sends letters and gifts to men and women serving overseas who don’t get much mail.

Forest Glen English teacher Patricia Forester started the school’s effort with students in the Junior Beta Club, which encourages leadership, achievement, character and service.

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“It was something my church had been doing for a while,” she said. “And I thought it would be a good service project for the students.”

The Friends of Our Troops organization sends thousands of letters and cards to soldiers overseas three times a year — at Christmas, on Valentine’s Day and in the month of July.

The first year Forrester took on the project only the Beta Club students participated, but the next year, all of Forest Glen’s students penned a letter to a soldier.

Now, it is something the school does every year.

Forrester said she tells all of the English teachers about the project, and they set aside a few minutes of class time for students to write notes.

“I think the kids enjoy doing it,” she said. “It’s kind of a quick, fast project, and we let (troops) know we are thinking about them during the holidays.”

After the students have finished their cards, Forrester mails them to the Friends of Our Troops office in Fayetteville, N.C.

Ben Wiser, the director of Friends of Our Troops, said during the last campaign, the group received more notes and cards from Forest Glen Middle School than from any other school in Virginia.

He said the organization receives letters from all over the nation, and staff members spend about a month dividing the notes to make random mixes to send in packages to different units.

“When a unit gets a box of letters, they are from all over the place,” Wiser said.

He said the soldiers, especially the men and women who don’t get a lot of mail, greatly appreciate hearing from people at home.

“A few of them rarely get any mail at all,” Wiser said. “It just makes their day to get letters from people expressing their appreciation.”

Forrester said she thinks the project helps to broaden students’ perspective of the world.

“I think it’s very important, because the students are into themselves a lot,” she said. “I think when they are able to do projects like this, they step outside of themselves and seem to appreciate others.”

To participate in the Friends of Our Troops campaign, send any letters to Friends of Our Troops, P.O. Box 65408, Fayetteville, NC 28306.