Soldiers' Angel Janet's grandson, LTC Heath Kelly, was among the National Guard Soldiers killed in the Colorado I-HOP shooting two years ago. He was a graduate of John Curtis Christian Lower School & High School, where Janet is now a volunteer. Out of the family's grief, Janet and her relatives have been a light to the students, teaching them out to support the troops still serving. "She and her family are a national treasure to us," says Dolly Geldersma, Advisor to the school's Builders Club.
When Heath died, John Curtis' 7th and 8th grade Builders Club decided they wanted to pay him tribute by continuing his legacy of soldier support. That year, they mailed 65 care packages to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan under the guidance of Janet and her family. "They were great teachers," Geldersma says.
This year Builders Club* asked each homeroom in grades K through 12 to pledge to fill at least one box and raise the $15 required to mail it to Afghanistan. The school responded in a huge way, raising over $800 for postage, as well as hundreds of items that filled over 60 care packages. "Our whole school's movers and shakers were busy on this one," Geldersma exclaims. "We are especially proud of the variety of items that families donated, filling boxes with DVDs, snacks, magazines, books, puzzle books, as well as hygiene and comfort items."
Care packages for heroes was just the beginning of the Veterans Day celebration John Curtis students held this year. They hosted LTC Kelly's family at the school and presented them with over 60 boxes for mailing to Afghanistan in honor of Heath and his family’s dedication to America's soldiers. They followed the ceremony with a reception for Janet's family, all the veterans in attendance and other important guests.
Geldersma reports that Janet's appreciation for the reception was very touching to the students who had worked so hard on it. Their excitement was even broader, though. " All of us are happy to have found a small way to give back to the men and women who sacrifice so much," Geldersma says. "The relationship with Janet's family is a match made in heaven for our school population."
Congratulations to John Curtis Christian for living up to their patriotic mascot, to Janet and her family for leading the way in service both military and civilian!
*In addition to the Builders Club, the effort was aided and supported by our Key Club (sponsored by Kiwanis) and Interact Club (sponsored by Rotary).