SEBASTIAN — What began as a chance encounter during a Veterans Day ceremony quickly turned into a class project for American History eighth graders at Sebastian River Middle School.
Teacher Jaime Sturgeon met Barefoot Bay resident Anne Marwick during the ceremony at Riverview Park in Sebastian on Nov. 11 and found out Marwick and her husband, Ernie, were trying to send holiday cards to wounded veterans staying at VA hospitals across the country.
“What they’re doing is fantastic,” Sturgeon said of the Marwicks, who have been sending a bit of holiday cheer to veterans for the last six years. At 80, Anne Marwick is going strong, sending more and more cards to a growing list of hospitals throughout the country. Last year, she and Ernie sent out 1,893 cards.
She hasn’t finished her count this year, though it stands at more than 1,500.
Marwick got the idea after making contact with a military official who recommended she send cards to the wounded soldiers.
“I feel sorry for the ones who don’t have family,” Marwick said.
Now, she keeps cards with her everywhere she goes and approaches strangers, asking if they would like to send a message to the veterans.
“I think they think we’re nuts,” Marwick said of the community at large, but she doesn’t let that stop her from pushing ahead and finding groups to help with the cards.
“They were very, very enthusiastic about the project,” Sturgeon said of his students.
He took in approximately 100 cards to his five classes the Friday after Veterans Day to have the students write messages to the recipients.
Earlier in the week, veterans had visited the classes to talk about their military experience, giving the students some background before filling out the cards.
“It was very meaningful for them,” Sturgeon added, noting that some of the students have or had family members who served in the military.
“My classes – we did the small part,” Sturgeon said. The soldiers – “they’ve done the tough work.”
He added that he would like to continue supporting the Marwicks’ effort in the future, as well as add mailings throughout the year, not just during special holiday seasons.
Sturgeon said he’s spoken with other social studies teachers at the school who have also expressed interest in getting involved next year.
Marwick said she doesn’t have any plans to stop sending cards to the wounded soldiers anytime soon – body willing.
“I can’t help it,” she said. “If I couldn’t do this for Christmas, I’d give up. And I’m not ready to give up.”
The Marwicks send boxes of the cards to each of 10 VA hospitals, and while Marwick said she thinks they will have enough money to cover postage, donations would be greatly appreciated.
Anyone wishing to donate may do so by mailing them to 902 Waterway Dr., Barefoot Bay, FL 32976.