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Spreading the love with Valentines for Vets

An after-school program in Guelph is taking part in Valentines for Vets, where they create cards of thanks and love which are then delivered to veterans in long-term care facilities

This Valentine's Day, ‘sharing is caring’ for a group of children at a Guelph after-school program.

Children attending Bulldog for Kids in the Grange Plaza helped spread a bit of love with crafted handmade Valentine's Day cards as part of the Valentines for Veterans program run by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Program leader Dana Berthiaume thought it was a good way for her students to put their artistic talents to work while doing something special for others.  

“This is the first year we are doing Valentines. Last year, we sent letters. We received a response back saying how these letters made everyone’s day,” Berthiaume said.

“This year, a parent told us about this initiative, so we thought well, let’s do it again, only with Valentines.”

A group of about 28 students, age seven and up, took part in the heartfelt effort in hopes that the personal touch of handmade valentines, can help bring a smile to veteran’s face.

“It makes them think about what they are fortunate to have here, especially with things that are happening in our world today. We have one child here who does have a parent that is a veteran. And I have a family friend who is currently overseas, who hasn’t been home since November, so he missed Christmas and New Years,” Berthiaume said.

“I want kids to think about how happy this will make veterans feel when they receive these cards, and from people they don’t even know.”

Each year, Veterans Affairs Canada invites Canadian schools, individuals and organizations to make Valentines for Vets. The valentines are then distributed to veterans in long-term care facilities across the country by Feb. 14.

Valentines for Vets began in 1989 when late newspaper columnist Ann Landers encouraged her readers to create special valentines for veterans in care facilities throughout Canada and the United States.

Every year, Landers' special "Valentines for Vets" column asked her readers to remember the sacrifices of their nations' veterans by making them personal hand-crafted valentines.

VAC became involved with the program in 1996 and has been receiving and distributing valentines to veterans in care facilities across Canada ever since.

Mia Pike, a student in the after-school program at Bulldog for Kids, says she hopes her card will brighten up a veteran's day.

“I hope this can make someone happy, someone who might be feeling alone. I hope they can feel better about themselves,” Pike said.

Easton Field says he hopes his card can help cheer someone up and wishes all veterans a Happy Valentine’s Day.

And Levi Grimm wants veterans to know that he is thinking of them.

Berthiaume says the Valentines for Vets program offers students the opportunity to thank their veterans, not only on Remembrance Day, but throughout the year, and to learn of all of their accomplishments and sacrifices.

“The kids are asked to make one card and more if they want to,” Berthiaume said.

“We try and do something like this every year, whether it be a Christmas, or this year on Valentine’s Day. We do try to change it up every year, so kids can continue to think about our veterans.”

Matthew Eddolls, 10, says that right now veterans might be feeling alone and maybe feeling sad.

“So, they need some cheering up. What better way than with a card,” Eddols said.

“They helped us, now it’s our turn to help them.”

For more information about Valentines for Vets, visit here