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Making cards for Valentine’s Day is a trademark of the holiday.

On Monday, the kids of Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club put their creative skills to use to create cards, not for their classmates but a decorated World War II veteran to thank him for his service.

All afternoon, kids were busy coloring cards to be delivered to 104-year-old Stockton resident United States Marine Corps. Major Bill White, who granted an interview to the Sacramento TV station KTXL 40 last month where he called upon people far and wide to send him Valentine’s cards to add to a collection of mementos he keeps on his bookshelves.

“I’m going to save every one of them just as I did everything else up until now, and they’ll become a personal part of my history,” he told the network.
Christina Allen, the site supervisor at the Boys & Girls Club’s Trower center, said Markham Elementary School’s site supervisor, Josefina Salazar, had viewed the KTXL video and emailed the rest of the club staff.

“We all were like, ‘We’ve gotta do this,” Allen said.

Allen said the club writes letters to veterans throughout the year, which are often delivered to the Rocky Hill Veterans Apartments down the street.

Monday’s activity was one to honor a specific veteran. White served in the Marines for 30 years and received a Purple Heart for leading his fellow soldiers during the Battle of Iwo Jima, where he also was injured by a grenade blast. Allen said the club wanted to honor White’s request by sending him cards made by the kids.

“We just thought it would be a super thoughtful way to honor someone who served our country and to teach our kids to continue to honor those who have served,” she said.
Moreover, Allen said a lot of the club members’ parents were actively serving at Travis Air Force Base, so the activity allows the kids to further connect with what their parents are doing.

“It’s very close to them already,” she said. “It just allows them to be more present about what’s happening in our community and at large in our country.”

The Rookies — the younger club members — were excited about the activity and the charitable nature of it. Andrew Villalobos, a 7-year-old club member, and Markham student, has two parents serving in the military and liked the idea of “doing something nice for people.”

Ivanna, an 8-year-old Markham student, was planning to draw an American flag and liked having an avenue to demonstrate her kindness.

That enthusiasm carried over to the older Junior members. Abbey English-Reed, an 11-year-old Cooper Elementary student, said her uncle serves in the military, so it has given her an appreciation for service members.

“If they weren’t serving, what would happen if we had to do it?” she asked. “We wouldn’t be prepared, so I would thank the military for serving for us and I just want to thank them for helping serve our country.”

Anaya Roosevelt, a 9-year-old Cooper student, said she liked being able to pay respects and “saying a big thank you to the veterans and that we get to appreciate them and thank them for what they did for us.”

Overall, Allen hopes the activity will make the kids learn more about what it takes to honor others, especially people they do not know but had attributes worthy of recognition.

“It also teaches them to think about someone outside of their own immediate lives,” she said. “We’re sending cards to someone who did something good for us, and we don’t know them. It’s teaching them charity.”

After the cards are done, they will be sent directly to White. Those wishing to create and send cards of their own can address them to:

Operation Valentine
ATTN: Hold for Maj Bill White, USMC (Ret)
The Oaks at Inglewood
6725 Inglewood Ave.
Stockton, CA 95207

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