- Associated Press - Monday, December 21, 2015

JASPER, Ind. (AP) - Third- and fourth-graders at Holy Trinity Catholic School are spreading Christmas cheer to military personnel in Alaska this year.

When keyboarding teacher Denise Miller learned of five Army soldiers stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska, who weren’t expecting anything for Christmas, she thought, “My students can help with that.”

Although Miller teaches third- through eighth-grade computer classes, she opted to only have her third- and fourth-graders write letters.

“I thought it would warm (the soldiers’) hearts more getting letters from the younger grades,” Miller told The Herald (https://bit.ly/1Qz6PET).

Miller heard about the soldiers from her daughter, Leah Miller, who teaches at Forest Park High School. One of Leah’s friends is stationed in Fairbanks and reached out to Leah hoping she could help his friends receive letters for Christmas.

“She called me and said, ‘I teach high school. I can’t ask my students to do this. Can you help?’” Miller said. “I said, ‘Sure. My third- and fourth- graders will love it.”

Thanks to Miller’s students, each of the five soldiers will receive an envelope stuffed with 15 letters filled with Christmas wishes, promises of prayer and hopes that the soldiers stay safe. In the white space beneath the words, the students added hand-drawn images.

“We’re not using clip art,” Miller said. “Because what do you think they’d rather see on the letters?”

“Our drawings,” the class chorused.

Caden Erny wrote in his letter that he wants to join the Army someday, too. He liked writing and decorating his letter.

“It’s fun,” he said.

Grace Kluemper drew a candy cane on her letter.

“It’s important because the soldiers don’t get many letters and they don’t get anything for Christmas,” Kluemper said.

As they wrote their letters, the class got an impromptu spelling lesson as well. Students called out words to spell including Indiana, merry Christmas and country. The class got a chuckle when one little boy announced he’d written “Thank you for protecting our counter” instead of country.

At the end of class, Miller reminded her students that the true meaning of Christmas is being kind to one another and helping each other. As they filed out the door, she wished them a Merry Christmas.

“Remember the true meaning of Christmas,” Miller said. “You guys just helped.”

___

Information from: The Herald, https://www.dcherald.com

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