From Omaha with love: 1,000 valentines to the Persian Gulf

As part of a project that originated with the Trailblazers After-school Program, the Lewis & Clark Middle School community is making 1,000 valentines for sailors aboard the USS Stennis.

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This Valentine’s Day, Lewis & Clark middle schoolers are sending love to the Persian Gulf – and they’re asking friends and neighbors of all ages to join in.

For the past week, students at Lewis & Clark Middle School have been making valentines for sailors and Marines aboard the U.S.S. Stennis, an aircraft carrier in the Gulf supporting the battle against ISIS. The carrier has been in the Gulf since December.

Students hope to send 1,000 cards by Feb. 6, said Tracy White of Civic Nebraska, which runs the after-school Community Learning Center program at the school.

White, who oversees the daily 200-student program as part of Civic Nebraska’s Youth Civic Leadership programming, said the idea originated in a Facebook group of which she is a member. White’s friend, a woman from Florida whose son is among the crew on the carrier, posted that he and his crewmates always value and appreciate kind sentiments from home.

The Stennis crew carries out daily air-support missions amid rising anxiety in the Mideast. Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic oil passageway; there are ongoing tensions between U.S. allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia; Yemen’s civil war continues; and President Trump has indicated his wish to remove U.S. forces from Syria.

“Last year we sent Christmas cards, but this year (with the carrier being deployed to the Gulf in December) we missed the Christmas mailing deadline,” White said. “So I thought, ‘Why not Valentine’s Day?’ We all thought that would be a great surprise for the men and women who serve our country.”

To ensure there are cards for all crew members, the students would need to create 50 cards a day until Feb. 6 – a tall order. So Civic Nebraska’s after-school staff turned the effort into a project involving Social Emotional Learning – in which students manage emotions, set positive goals, show empathy for others, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

White also approached Principal Lisa Sterba, teachers, and the greater Lewis & Clark community for a hand. Parents, neighbors, and the school’s HomeBase instructors have jumped in to help, but there’s still a ways to go.

Those interested in making valentines bound for the U.S.S. Stennis can contact White at tracy.white@civicnebraska.org. Meanwhile, Lewis & Clark students will continue to create valentines with their supply of red-and-pink construction paper and markers.

“We want our sailors to know that we appreciate their service to our country – that we are so thankful for what they do for us every day,” White said. “There are a lot of sailors who do not get any mail, and this Valentine’s Day we want to change that.”

Learn more about Civic Nebraska’s Youth Civic Leadership programs here.

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Yelena Anria

I want to just say thank you for all of the support that your community has given to all the sailors and marines aboard the USS STENNIS especially to my son. It brings tears to my eyes on how something so small could mean something so big for someone else. Thank you and God bless.

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