West Orange schools create holiday cards for troops

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — All 11 schools in the West Orange School District once again answered the call to create holiday cards for the troops with a resounding “yes,” as more than 1,000 cards were recently sent out to troops around the world.

“We Love Our Heroes,” a local group comprised of friends and parishioners of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Roseland, again set out to ship cards and supplies to the troops. This year’s packages are heading to Southeast Asia, Turkey, Japan, Bahrain, Fort Benning in Georgia, two Navy ships currently deployed and a few confidential addresses that cannot be disclosed. The recipients will be military from the Navy, Army and Marine Corps.

The school district participated last year and, according to Suzanne Pennell, a West Orange resident and mother of Naval Academy midshipman Dylan Pennell of the West Orange High School’s Class of 2014, “Feedback was 100-percent grateful and positive … the troops were especially appreciative of the beautiful handmade cards made by our West Orange students as a personal touch means a lot to them.”

Students had the opportunity to learn there are young men and women from their own community and cities and towns across our country who pledged an oath to defend and protect the United States of America in military service. With that service comes the possibility of long-term deployment, often in places that are unstable and dangerous. Students were excited to create the cards and thank those in military service, as reported by all the principals.

“As the mother of a son who will be deployed on a U.S. Navy ship in less than two years, I cannot say enough how grateful military families are for packages and letters to our troops,” Suzanne Pennell said. “The response from our West Orange public schools has again been exceptional and overwhelming.

“Huge thanks goes to Superintendent Jeff Rutzky for his incredible support, to our individual principals, teachers and staff for encouraging their students to participate and create and, most of all, to the awesome students of all our public schools for their willingness to share a little love and kindness with those serving our country,” she continued.

The cards sent to Fort Benning were already delivered and Sgt. Kerry Wells sent this note in response: “Thank you guys so much from soldiers located at FT Benning, Ga. During this specific time we would all love to be spending time with our families for the holiday season but are currently in training. Thank you for taking the time to think of us and know that this gesture will never be forgotten. Again, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts.”

Photos Courtesy of WOSD