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Kelly Smith, Published February 03 2009

WF elementary to raise money to send vet to DC

Monday was like a Fourth of July celebration in February for West Fargo’s Eastwood Elementary students.

First-graders sporting red, white and blue paper hats bobbed their heads as the “Star-Spangled Banner” played and Junior ROTC cadets from West Fargo High School presented the flags.

It was a patriotic ceremony fit for the cause – a kickoff to a special fundraiser for a local World War II veteran.

“Our whole point is to thank them for what they do,” said counselor and project organizer Joan Houdek. “(And) we just want to instill that appreciation (in the students).”

The school’s staff and students hope to raise the $750 needed to send a local vet on the Northern Valley Honor Flight.

The trip, slated for April 17-18, will fly World War II veterans to a Washington, D.C., memorial in their honor.

While the school does community projects every year during February’s “Kindness Week,” this year, “We just thought we’d try something different,” Houdek said.

“Kindness Week” will be extra kind this year because it’s being extended to two weeks to give the students enough time to raise the money. “We work so hard to teach them to be a good citizen,” Principal Jeff Johnson said. This project really teaches the students “what it means to give back.”

Students and staff will collect money in authentic World War II helmets, counting their contents each week to see which class raised the most. The winning class will write special messages to the vet to read on his flight.

“It’s all about being a good citizen,” Johnson told the gym packed with the school’s 500 students. “Let’s fill up the helmets in honor of all the vets who have served.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515