BROCKWAY — The Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School’s junior class had an assembly from a former principal Wednesday. Instead of talking about school, the students were learning how they can help veterans.

“The last time I saw you all, you were in eighth grade, I think,” Dee Dee Carlini said to the group of students in the cafeteria. “You’ve all grown up!”

Carlini recently assumed the role of Auxiliary President at Post 95 of the American Legion. Taking on the new responsibilities gave her a chance to connect to her old responsibilities as principal of the high school.

“I knew that the students had to do a graduation project with a service component,” Carlini said. “I thought this would be a great partnership.”

Carlini contacted the junior class advisor, Shawn Gifford, and pitched the idea. Soon, it was approved by administration and the Brockway Junior Class’ Veterans Support Project was born.

“It’s important to educate our young people about the value of our veterans and active duty personnel,” Carlini said after the meeting with the juniors. “We owe so much to these men and women and it’s imperative students learn about the sacrifices and service necessary to keeping America free.”

Carlini addressed the students as she had done many times before. She did not introduce herself but went right into explaining what she needed.

“If every one of you brings in one item, that’s 75 items right there,” she said. “But you need to tell your friends, your classmates, and your families to help out.”

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The mission is to gather enough items to send care packages to veterans in VA hospitals in Altoona, Butler, and Erie. The packages will also be sent to Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center and local nursing homes. Carlini also asked students to give her names and addresses of active-duty service men and women so they could receive a care package as well.

Lists of items are at the American Legion and the school, but Carlini is mostly looking for non-perishable food items, tooth brushes and other toiletries, and activity books like word searches and crossword puzzles. Cash and check donations are welcome, too.

“I got online to see what other communities have done and created a list that would be appropriate and convenient for the people of our community to get,” Carlini said. “Our community and the service personnel give so much. By doing service projects, the students learn the value of anyone who is in the military and the importance of volunteer work.”

Students are being asked to bring items to school in support of the project and will also help out at a collection day.

“Customers going in will be given a list and asked to purchase items while shopping,” Carlini explained. “They just have to add an item for a veteran to the shopping they were already doing. If people want to make money donations, that will help with shipping costs.”

More information can be found by contacting the school or American Legion Post 95. Telling the Auxiliary about active-duty military and sharing those addresses can get those service men and women on the list to receive a package.

“The community helps with us a lot, gives to the school, so it’s just the least we can do to give back,” said Brockway Junior Class Secretary Chanell Britten. “I hope everyone gets involved, especially helping the community.”

On September 29, Auxiliary members and juniors will be at Martino’s Bilo as well as the Dollar General in Brockway from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also hope to have an event on October 26 at Walmart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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