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Prairie Elementary & Indian Hills Middle School Veteran's Toiletry Drives - Spring 2022

This Spring, we entered the second year of the COVID pandemic and as with most things, our yearly collection looked a little different. While local health restrictions have started loosening, (i.e. we are back in school, without masks), sadly the Heart of America Stand Down was canceled for the second year in a row. But the needs of veterans facing homelessness still remain, so Kids4Vets did not let COVID prevent us from finding a way to give back. Thankfully, the students, faculty and administrations from both my brother's school (Prairie Elementary), and my middle school (Indian Hills) were eager to host toiletry drives. The donations went to St. Michael's Veteran's Center (SMVC), in Kansas City, Missouri. SMVC is an apartment community offering affordable housing to local homeless veterans, and was created by Art Filmore, one of the original founders of the Heart of America Stand Down.

The Prairie Elementary drive lasted one week - with the promise of a pizza party for the classes bringing in the most donations! This was Jack's first year running a Stand Down collection. With the help of experienced Kids4Vets' volunteers, Grayson and George, the trio made a short video to educate students about the need to help veterans in our community. The collection was a huge success thanks to the support of the entire Prairie Family, and in particular Principal Kristen Jones. The classes earning a pizza party for their donations included: third place, Ms. Tackett and Ms. Meyer-Brunk's classes (there was a tie), second place Ms. Will's class, and in first place (....drumroll please) was Ms. Campbell's class! Jack was thrilled to find out that his class had won, but he unfortunately came down with COVID and was unable to attend. As we've learned over the past few years: COVID. Ruins. Everything.

The Indian Hills drive was organized by our incredible Student Council and Faculty Advisors (teachers: Joanne Broekhuizen and Laura Ballard; and Principal Blake Revelle). The collection lasted for two weeks, but it wasn't the same as the Prairie collection in that there was no prize for the winning classes. Instead, for admission to the school's end of year mixer students needed to bring in at least one donation to the drive. Daily announcements to the school, supportive teachers and staff, and some amazing students helped bring in thousands of donations.

Perhaps the best part of the annual Stand Down collection is the opportunity for students to attend the event and meet members of our veteran community. The disruption of COVID took away this opportunity. Nonetheless, this years' collection was a huge success! Thousands and thousands of donations were brought in and more students educated, fulfilling our mission.


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