They’re young. They’re ready. And they’re able. At one time, these words applied to the courageous men and women who stepped forward to defend our country during World War II, but the words also apply to a group of middle school students who were ready to honor local veterans and Local Heroes.
Each year, Oquirrh Hills Middle School collects money during the month of December to donate to a worthy cause. This year, students collected money from friends and neighbors and from donations for performances. This year, they donated to two causes and awarded $4,000 to Local Heroes and $18,500 to Honor Flight.
We lose more of our World War II veterans each day. As their numbers dwindle rapidly, time is of the essence in helping them be able to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. built in their honor. Enter a charity called Utah Honor Flight whose goal is to plan and fund trips to Washington, D.C. for veterans. With this year’s fundraiser, OHMS students raised enough money to fund trips for nine veterans.
At a final assembly revealing the amount of money the students raised, local World War II veterans were invited and honored in person by the OHMS students. The dance company performed and art students presented them with hand-drawn portraits of them. The students in the National Junior Honor Society also wrote thank you letters to them.
“That means so much to these veterans, to see the thank you’s in the physical form. From a small group this is the biggest gift we’ve received,” Mike Turner, chairman of Utah Honor Flight, said.
For Riverton resident and World War II veteran, Dorothy Smith, 91, the donation will mean a trip on Honor Flight sometime in April or May with other female veterans.
“She has never been to D.C. before, and this has helped her feel very young again,” Dorothy’s son, John Smith said.
Local Heroes is a charity operated by the Unified Police Department and Fire Departments in Riverton that uses the money to provide gift cards for local families who would otherwise not have a Christmas.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the kids at Oquirrh Hills,” Principal Mike Glenn said.