Veterans received a special Valentine’s gift from over a dozen local children who created cards to show them that their service has not been forgotten.
“A simple card is a great way to lift someone’s spirit,” said Kristen Gauvin, whose son, Liam Gauvin, 8, got a group of his friends together with craft supplies, construction paper and stickers to create the cards. “Something so simple is so special and means a lot to the veterans.”
The family first created cards for veterans last Christmas, when the Gauvins made a few dozen and had them delivered by Henry “Hank” Stefanowicz, who they had met when wrapping care packages for soldiers abroad for the Hero Boxes charity.
“We wanted it bring it to another level and see if we could get a bunch of kids together and just be able to make as many cards as we could,” Gauvin said. “The kids felt special, Hank felt special and we know it made a lot of veterans smile.”
Once the cards were finished, Stefanowicz, a Vietnam veteran, distributed them at the Hartford Hartford Center in Rocky Hill and the VA Medical Center in Newington.
“It's a very good cause because many veterans, especially my Vietnam veteran friends, we never really got a thank you for our service,” said Stefanowicz. “It acknowledges the fact that they did serve and they’re not forgotten.”
Having created cards with students in Newington schools, where he once worked, Stefanowicz has seen first-hand the uplifting effect they have on veterans.
“A lot of vets go through very difficult times with the things they came back with … they may suffer from PTSD or things like that. This is very helpful for them to get through those tough days,” he said.
It helps the youngsters too, by reminding them of the value of service.
“Many of them begin to realize that some of the things they take for granted are even greater than they realize,” Stefanowicz said. “It’s part of a gift that every soldier … is giving everyone and that’s the gift of freedom and the ability to make choices.”