HMS students make impact on local veteran community

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A Hanscom Middle School seventh-grade class raised nearly $500 through a bake sale and other fundraising activities to donate to the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

The students presented their donation May 30 to the veterans’ center, a nonprofit organization in Boston that has been serving local veterans for the past 20 years.

"Our mission is to help veterans transition to independent living rather than serving as a permanent shelter," said Savannah Cooper, NECHV Communications director, who came to the base to accept the donation. “We offer clinical services, job training, and housing support, all funded by contributions like yours.”

The fundraising effort was inspired by a novel the students were reading in an English Language Arts class, co-taught by ELA teacher Greg Kalesnik and speech and language pathologist Lisa Falcone.

"The students were reading a book that featured a homeless character," said Kalesnik. "We decided to have the kids research homelessness in Massachusetts, and they were shocked to learn about the prevalence of homeless veterans in our state.”

Because many of the students’ parents are veterans, the issue resonated with them, according to HMS staff.

“It felt good to help veterans who might not have a place to live,” said Cody Tisdall, an HMS student who participated in fundraising.

Staff used the opportunity to integrate real-life skills and community service into their curriculum.

"These students aren't always enthusiastic about schoolwork, but they were very emotional about this issue," said Falcone. "We decided to channel that energy into something positive by organizing a bake sale and a fundraiser at local restaurant."

The effort not only raised funds but also helped students in other ways.

"The students had to make no-bake desserts, follow directions, and write an email to the principal asking for permission for the bake sale," Falcone said. "We incorporated as much educational content as we could."

She noted the impact the project had on the students' self-esteem and leadership abilities.

"Seventh grade can be very challenging socially and emotionally, especially for military children,” Falcone said. “During the bake sale, they took on leadership roles and worked diligently, showing their peers that they could rise to the occasion."

Cooper highlighted the importance of community support for all veteran organizations.

"We rely on contributions from people like you," she said to students. "This is how we give back to veterans who have done so much for us. Your fundraising efforts will directly support our programs, providing meals, clinical services, and job training for veterans in need."

HMS staff hope to incorporate similar efforts in the future.