Students from an Omaha summer school program learned an important lesson in giving back this week when they visited the Omaha VA Medical Center. According to the Omaha World-Herald, 60 students from Beals Elementary FUNdamental Summer School visited the hospital and presented Veterans with handmade crafts.
Cindy Meyer, with Omaha Public Schools, told the World-Herald the summer learning program has been valuable for the students. “These trips make learning fun and it’s real-life experiences for them,” she said. “It’s very hands-on. No one wants to just sit in a classroom all day, especially during the summer.”
Before visiting the medical center, the students learned about recycling and giving new life to recycled jars and cans by hand-decorating them. During the field trip, they gave their recycled crafts – and a few smiles along the way – to Veterans and family members.
“The kids learned to take something and repurpose it,” Meyer said. “They created something designed to bring a smile to someone else’s face.”
The gifts definitely made an impression with the recipients. “It’s a little craft to make and it makes an old boy happy,” said Steve Kimpson, a Griswold, Iowa, resident and Navy Veteran who fought in the Vietnam War.
Army Veteran Ed Strickland of Omaha appreciated the effort. “It’s great. Any more, you don’t expect anything like this,” Strickland said. “I love this. I’ll keep it forever.”
The Omaha VA Medical Center staff told the World-Herald that for most Veterans, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. “This is great that they are teaching the youth who Veterans are and what they do,” spokesman Will Ackerman said. “I’m watching the faces of some of these Veterans as these kids come up to them, you see their faces just light up. Something as simple as a candle or a flag does so much for them. It’s really cool.”
Visits by students and other volunteer groups are welcomed by VA medical centers across the country. Many are happening this summer as part of VA’s Summer of Service initiative, which is designed to highlight the work of volunteers at VA and throughout the community. Last year more than 140,000 volunteers gave more than 11 million hours in service to America’s Veterans.
As students in Omaha learned, giving back is important. “I learned about caring for others,” student Amia Ignowski, 7, who will start second grade in August told the newspaper. She thinks Veterans are “good because they (fought) for our freedom.”
VA takes its commitment to care for the nation’s Veterans and their families very seriously, and this summer, we invite all of you to join in that commitment. Community by community, state by state, our nation can work together to serve Veterans during the VA Summer of Service.
- Look for VA at community events and engage our employees and partners.
- Reach out to your local medical facility or National Cemetery to find out what you can do to help.
- Check out #VASummerOfService on Vantage Point, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and join VA in caring for America’s Veterans.