(BRENTWOOD, NY) – Legislator Gonzalez collected 4,000 Valentine’s Day cards from schools throughout the Brentwood and Central Islip school districts for his Valentines for Veterans card drive. Uncertain how many students would participate in his new initiative, Legislator Gonzalez embarked on the undertaking with a goal set at 2,500 cards. However, the Valentines for Veterans initiative far exceeded projections, having collected 4,000 cards for past and present members of the Armed Forces.
1.29 million or less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population actively serve in the military. Not including the Middle East, there are more than 225,000 U.S. military personnel stationed abroad. Veterans often serve in dangerous, isolated locations and receive little correspondence, only to return home to little or no fanfare. Legislator Gonzalez recognized that his Valentines for Veterans initiative was an opportunity to teach children the importance of service while letting Veterans know we appreciate their sacrifices.
Legislator Gonzalez collected the cards from 18 schools in the Ninth Legislative District, and coordinated their distribution with the American Legion (Post 1006), American Legion (Central Islip), Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Northport VA Medical Center. Legislator Gonzalez also collaborated with U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Amee I. Hernandez Waites, to ship several thousand of the Valentine’s Day cards to active-duty servicemen and women overseas.
“We were honored to be a part of Legislator Gonzalez’ “Valentines for Veterans” initiative,” said Howard M. Koenig, Superintendent, Central Islip Union Free School District. “Our veterans should always know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifices on our behalf.”
“The outpouring of support for this initiative was heartwarming. I want to thank the Veteran’s organizations for participating and to the teachers for providing the students with the resources to express their appreciation for our Veterans. I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to Richard Loeschner, Superintendent, BUFSD, and to Dr. Howard M. Koenig, Superintendent, CIUFSD, without whom it would not have been possible to complete this highly successful community initiative,” said Legislator Gonzalez.
The following schools took part in the Valentines for Veterans initiative: Twin Pines Elementary, Pine Park Elementary, Oak Park Elementary, Loretta Park Elementary, Laurel Park Elementary, Hemlock Park Elementary, Gail Elaine Kirkham Northeast, East Elementary, Brentwood South Middle School, Brentwood West Middle School, Brentwood Freshman Center, Andrew T Morrow Elementary, Charles Mulligan Elementary, Cordello Avenue Elementary, Francis J O’Neill Elementary, Marguerite Mulvey Elementary, Anthony Alfano Elementary, and Central Islip High School.
“The Valentines for Veterans initiative had an amazing unifying effect on the students and teachers in my district. Students from 18 schools participated in this project to show appreciation for our brave servicemen and women in the military. The valentines were beautifully decorated and contained messages of gratitude for our Veterans across the world. The smiles, high-fives, and hugs that U.S. Staff Sgt., Amee Hernandez Waites, Staff Sgt. Alejandro, PFC Villavicencio and I received every time we visited a school were priceless,” said Legislator Gonzalez.