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Third-graders get thanks for pillows they crafted

Rhonda Fode's third grade class received pictures and letters of thanks from the soldiers they sent handmade Patriotic Pillows to for Christmas.

At the start of last December, Denise Olson contacted the students in Rhonda Fode's third grade classroom at Roosevelt School. Denise's daughter-in-law, Army Captain Lisa Olson, is serving with the 115 CSH Task Force in Herat, Afghanistan, as an RN specializing in trauma and emergency care.

Lisa told her mother-in-law that it is very sad to see the wounded or sick soldiers in the care unit with no one or nothing to comfort them, especially so close to Christmas.

So Fode's class took over and brightened some wounded soldiers' day.

The kids created Patriotic Pillows and then sent a photo of themselves with the pillow so that the soldier could have a personal connection with the person that made the pillow to comfort him/her. They also wrote a note to the soldiers, thanking them for what they do.

The soldiers ended up receiving the pillows Jan. 5, and there were several soldiers that had not received any mail or gifts during the holiday season so Lisa Olson used this opportunity to show the soldiers that there are people that appreciate what they are doing for our country.

Every soldier that received a pillow sent a letter and/or thank you card to the third grader. A picture of the soldier with the pillow showed the students that their efforts truly brightened the day of someone serving our country. Olson delivered the letters, cards and pictures to the class on March 1. The students were amazed that these soldiers were so excited about receiving their gifts.

Bella, a third grader, said, "This has given me such a warm, wonderful feeling inside. I can't believe how good I feel about something I have done!"

Olson also delivered a patriotic treat to the students to celebrate their "mission accomplished!"

Fode said she feels the relationships have only just begun.

"Several students have already taken time at home to write letters back to the soldiers. I have had parents contact me about how to go about sending other things of need to these soldiers," she said. "I also feel so good inside that by letting the kids' ideas become a reality that the learning is taking itself out of the classroom and into the homes of these students."

It all started with, "Can you send a little note to some soldiers to cheer them up?" to 24 students and now their families as well are doing something for someone else.

"This was an incredible lesson in paying it forward. All of this good came from the hearts of 8 and 9 year olds that knew no limits," Fode said.