CIRCLEVILLE — Students at Circleville Middle School have written letters to active duty service members as part of Operation Letters To Active Military, a traveling mailbox that will be stationed outside the school now through Friday at 3 p.m.
Operation Letters to Active Military is a mailbox that holds letters that are distributed to military service members overseas through the United Service Organizations (USO) that delivers them. The mailbox is located outside the front entrance to the school and is open to anyone who wants to drop off a letter or picture. They do not need to be addressed or stamped since the USO provides stamps after the letters are screened.
Lisa Sims, a language arts teacher at Circleville Middle School, said they have advisory groups, where they work with students, and this month’s theme was caring.
“The seventh grade team decided on a project to reach out to the military to thank them for their service,” Sims told The Circleville Herald. “Especially with some of the events going on around the world and a lot of soldiers being deployed we’ve been talking a lot about that in our classes and our students have a lot of questions and concerns and are very interested.”
Sims said a lot of the students had questions about the draft and how it would impact their lives.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions around everything going on,” she added.
Sims remarked there were several educational and curriculum elements to the letters.
“We work on vocabulary and letter writing and this makes the curriculum more meaningful when the students get this involved and write and draw things they’re interested in,” Sims commented. “They get to put their own spin on this and make their own choices. It brings the curriculum to life really.”
Tesla Savage, a 13-year-old seventh grade student, drew “Baby Yoda” on her letter and included morse code in addition to her thoughts.
“I wrote a lot and it’s basically just explaining how thankful I am for their service because it can be scary and you can lose a lot of your best friends out there,” Savage said.
Braydon Stevens, also a 13-year-old seventh grade student, drew an American flag and included a note along with it.
“I said that I hope they have a safe time home,” he commented.
Savage said she was excited and curious for the project.
“I’m curious what they’ll say back if they have the time to,” she added.
Savage and Stevens know people currently serving including Stevens’ uncle who is stationed in Texas, as do several staff members at the school.
“He’s been gone over a year and the only time I saw him was when we went to Texas on vacation,” Stevens said.
“I don’t really get to see them and I mentioned it in the letter too,” Savage said.
“It hits home for a lot of us,” Sims said. “There was a letter shared with me yesterday that a student included that they were interested in joining the military.”
Carla Schorr, organizer of Operation Letters To Active Military, said in total, Operation Letters has received about 8,000 in its nearly three years.
“It’s very overwhelming and heartwarming,” Schorr said of the letters. “When I started with this I thought maybe I’d get a handful of letters but it’s been an outpouring. The mailbox has been making its rounds. It’s heartwarming, especially now the crisis we’re in.”