Hamden Hall Lower School students were part of a global initiative last year that sent more than 20,000 valentines to soldiers overseas. This year, despite the fact that the Hugs for Soldiers program has suspended the project due to COVID-19, our community is one of the few schools across the country asked to participate with student artwork.
“They received over 20,000 valentines last year – the program has really grown – and it has become very challenging for volunteers to organize and repack boxes of valentines to send overseas to the troops in a safe and timely way. However, the director of the Georgia program has been impressed with the continual dedication and commitment from Hamden Hall students. As a result, Hamden Hall has been chosen to be one of the few schools in the country to have valentines sent to troops this year. That makes our students and artwork even more special,” said Lower School art teacher Susan Bennett 1973 who launched the program seven years ago under the pines.
The “Hugs” program is the Lower School’s January community service project as it offers “comforts from home” and helps brighten a soldier’s day with a care package, card or letter of encouragement, according to the organization’s website. Kindergarten through Grade 4 students in their art classes with Mrs. Bennett first learned about the program and then began crafting and creating Valentine cards and messages for troops overseas. Students in the Early Childhood classes and Grades 5 and 6 also have the option of completing cards before the final package leaves our halls on January 22.
“Students created colorful and thoughtful valentines that will be sent to the troops. They’ve made a variety of wonderful, inspiring Valentine cards with creative drawings, poems, and expressions. This year, more than ever, a random act of kindness to these soldiers speaks volumes,” maintained Mrs. Bennett.
As has been done since Day 1, Hamden Hall students will also send a separate package to alumnus Capt. Matthew Peterson, Class of 2003, who in turn shares them with his troops wherever he is stationed.
“That personal connection to one of our community members brings added joy to this community service project. Capt. Peterson every year sends back a thank-you email that I share with my classes, complete with pictures of soldiers displaying handmade valentines. It’s really a true circle-of-life experience for our Hamden Hall artists,” said Mrs. Bennett.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.