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Peterson students organize virtual program, donation drive for veterans

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | November 11, 2020 12:00 AM

Peterson Elementary students didn’t miss a beat in organizing a virtual Veterans Day program in light of COVID-19 restrictions.

Since the school wasn’t able to hold an in-person ceremony, students created a video tribute honoring veterans by singing songs, sharing about the importance of Veterans Day and creating a photo slideshow of local veterans related to Peterson students. The video will be shown to Montana Veterans Home residents today, according to fourth-grade teacher Karissa Prewitt.

In addition to the program, Prewitt’s class organized its annual schoolwide donation drive to collect items for Montana Veterans Home residents in Columbia Falls.

“They have been working hard to get the word out about the importance of thanking these amazing people who have sacrificed for us,” Prewitt said.

As part of the service project, fourth-grader Brooks Munday said fellow classmates went around classrooms to talk about Veterans Day and provide information about the donation drive. Munday, whose uncle and great-great-grandfather are veterans, talked about what was taught in class about the federal holiday.

“We learned that we should honor veterans because they put their life on the line for us to protect our country,” Munday said.

Usually a canned food drive to benefit the Northwest Montana Veterans Food Pantry is held in conjunction with the donation drive, but due to fewer students on-site due to COVID-19 and remote learning, the fourth-grade class focused their efforts on the donation drive. Each year the home provides a list of items needed Prewitt said. In addition to practical items like masks or lip balm, the list included fun items like candy and popcorn. Since there are restrictions on large gatherings, and people may find themselves isolated, this year’s list also included art projects residents could do by themselves and decorate their rooms.

Although the pandemic made the donation drive a bit more challenging, as of Tuesday, the fourth-graders collected 123 masks, 114 boxes of Cracker Jacks; 67 sticks of lip balm; 50 handwritten letters; 44 art projects; 30 pounds of candy and 15 pounds of popcorn kernels.

“It’s important for the students to realize the rights and freedoms we often take for granted came at someone else’s expense and by doing the service project they realize it doesn't take a lot to make a big impact on someone else's life,” Prewitt said.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.