REMEMBER, HONOR, TEACH
Each December, on National Wreaths Across America Day, volunteers place wreaths on individual veterans' graves across the United States. According to their website the mission of this organization is to Remember our fallen United States Veterans, Honor those who serve and Teach our children the value of freedom. This year the initiative is scheduled for Saturday, December 17th, beginning at 10:00AM.
After reading an article in the Ludlow Register that, locally, the program did not have enough wreaths to be placed on the graves at the Veterans Cemetery in Agawam, 3rd grade teachers at Chapin Street School, Mrs. Michele Manganaro-Thompson and Mrs. Carrie Joseph not only signed up online to volunteer at the event, but also approached Mrs. Nikki Reed, Chapin Street Principal, to see if they could also organize a school-wide fundraiser to assist with the deficit.
With Reed’s approval the two teachers spearheaded a fundraiser by asking staff and students to donate their spare change to help with purchasing the needed wreaths. They created and distributed a flyer explaining the cause, and the how their extra change could help ensure that no graves are without a wreath.
Cans were placed in each classroom for the collection. Manganaro-Thompson explained that they also reached out to various local businesses about matching or supplementing the amount raised. The fundraiser will conclude on Dec. 9th.
To give the fundraiser a personal touch Mr. Eric Segundo, Director of Veterans Services for the Town of Ludlow, Mrs. Gina Willette, Wreaths Across America Coordinator, and Mr. John Hurley, Vietnam Veteran and a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart were invited to speak to students and staff about the significance of the program, during their community meeting on December 2nd.
Hurley explained that it is a somber service; the wreaths are a symbol of respect and will be placed on every grave. Segundo extended an invitation for everyone to join them on the 17th at the Veterans Cemetery in Agawam. Wreath laying starts at 10:00AM, followed by a parade from the chapel at 11:45AM and a closing ceremony at the flagpoles at noon. Willette shared that the first 200 children who arrive to volunteer that day will receive a red hat.
Of this fundraiser, Segundo commented, "It really makes you feel so warm in your heart to see the students, so young, wanting to honor our veterans. Another prime example of Ludlow's best, both parents and teachers, teaching our youth on the importance of our military.”
“This is yet another example of how Chapin teachers go above and beyond their classroom responsibilities to educate our students about those important life skills such as empathy, compassion and making a difference in the lives of others,” added Reed.
Gina Willette, John Hurley, Carrie Joseph, Eric Segundo, Michele Manganaro-Thompson