Students write thank you cards to local veterans

Plants for a Purpose event offers students to write a card and receive a succulent to thank local veterans for their service. Vanguard Photo | Audrey Bergey

On Nov. 9th, Pine Grove RAs, NRHH and Military Student Affairs hosted a program called Plants for a Purpose.

Students were invited to come write letters to veterans to show gratitude and then receive a succulent after the message was written.

Justin Weller, a political science senior, created the program last year.

“Essentially, I wanted to support our veterans during Veteran’s Day week in a more impactful way than simply posting a hashtag or by liking a post on Facebook,” Weller said. “So, I decided to host a program … to share my and others’ gratitude for veterans in the local Saginaw area who have served our country.”

In addition to writing letters, students from across campus could engage in meaningful conversations with students who identify as veterans.

Bethany Alford, the director of Military Student Affairs, explained how her office came to be involved.

“I was approached by Justin Weller to do this … so it was really his idea,” she said. “I ran it by my office staff and student group and they really liked the idea.”

The Office of Military Student Affairs serves all military connected students, even dependents. It connects them to resources on campus and in the community.

“In past we did a whole Veterans’ Appreciation Week, but we had a table sit and we saw a lot of people,” Alford said. “The university put together a video with many faculty members to show appreciation for service and sacrifice.”

This year’s program had to be modified due to COVID-19 policies, so students had to sign up for time-slots in order to participate.

“This year has been even more successful than the previous year,” Weller said. “We doubled the number of letters written … totaling over 110 letters, and (we) ran out of succulents to hand out to students.”

Despite it being their most successful year, Alford said she hopes it will not be the last.

“I think this year it was even more successful because people are looking to get out and do things because COVID has everything shut down,” Alford said. “Justin’s graduating this year, and he has shared this idea with others, so I hope that the event continues every year.”

The letters of gratitude for the veterans’ service will be delivered to Saginaw VAMC (Veterans Affairs Medical Center).

“In the end, what this fundamentally represents is our campus’s commitment to civic engagement in our local community, and our values of gratitude and empowerment for those who protect us,” Weller said. “We hope to make this an annual and sustainable project in the years to come.”

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