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posted: Thu, Feb 7th, 2019

Letters and gifts of hope: NHS service to troops and children

The National Honor Society recently took on several service projects to help children in hospitals, as well as troops overseas.

Mrs. Diane McLaughlin, co-advisor for NHS, has a son, First Lieutenant Tyler McLaughlin who is currently deployed in Afghanistan with his unit until the end of July. Mrs. McLaughlin explained that the soldiers, who work day in and day out, enjoy getting mail, and it boosts their morale. As a result, NHS decided to find out the list of names of men and women in Tyler's unit, and each student in NHS picked the name of a soldier and wrote them a letter. In the letters students thanked the soldiers for their service, talked about what's going on here in the United States, included fun photos of their pets, wrote about their current favorite shows on Netflix, and so on.

Mrs. McLaughlin said, "This project is near and dear to my heart. Writing these letters is an educational process for our members. We often don't think about combat war going on overseas, and we go about our daily lives. Here was a chance for our students to reflect and understand that there are sons, daughters, husbands, and wives that are still doing their jobs as part of the U.S. Army."

She went on to explain that this unit was deployed at a time when they missed the winter holidays with their families, as well as other milestones like family gatherings and weddings. "They do their job every day, tirelessly. I'm really grateful that our NHS students could put smiles on their faces just by writing letters."

NHS also worked with an organization called Operation Quiet Comfort. This organization sends cards, care packages, handmade quilts, and many other things to troops fighting for our country. Bella Klekner, NHS member, said, "As a club, we decided to write encouraging notes and cards as well as hold a denim square signing for this organization. They will then take all the squares and put them together into a beautiful quilt for our troops."

In addition to thinking of troops, Devon Hallihan, NHS Historian, explained a recent toy drive the organization conducted for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She said, "When National Honor Society first decided to donate to hospitals, it was because the holidays had just finished. The other officers and I talked about how the children receiving treatment or were staying in the ICU probably were not able to have the bright, cheery holiday that they deserved. As a club, we decided that by donating toys, games, and other goods to a hospital, we could brighten the lives of countless children."

In terms of why they selected the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to receive the donations, Hallihan opened up and shared, "I was born with a congenital heart defect, and I am lucky to be alive. The team of doctors and nurses at CHOP saved my life, and since my first operation, I have had no complications, which is nearly unheard of. I will always feel the need to give back to that hospital, and after hearing my story, the other officers agreed that sending our donations to CHOP was the best route to take."

Hallihan said the NHS members are looking forward to bringing smiles to the children's faces, especially since being in the hospital can be a dark and scary time. She said, "We want the children to know they are not alone, and that here in Mount Olive's National Honor Society, we will always be happy to lend a hand."

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