Vista’s valentines value veterans 

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Vista’s valentines value veterans 

During the month of February, Vista students spent their lunches writing valentines for veterans

During the month of February, Vista students spent their lunches writing valentines for veterans

Graphic by Mia Huggins

During the month of February, Vista students spent their lunches writing valentines for veterans

Graphic by Mia Huggins

Graphic by Mia Huggins

During the month of February, Vista students spent their lunches writing valentines for veterans

Katherine Beyer, Staff Writer

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In late January, love is in the air as Vista students gather outside of the ASB room each day during both lunches to address handmade valentines to the men and women who have served the country. Each student fills out a pink, purple, or white valentine card with a heartfelt message of their own, thanking veterans for their service to the country and wishing them well this Valentine’s Day for the PTSA Valentines for Vets program. 

“It makes a difference because all the people who receive them are very grateful to receive them,” said Julie Rieber, who has been managing the Valentines for Vets table. “We have received multiple letters at the school district… thanking the schools for sending the letters and the cards out to them on Valentine’s Day. Those that have received them… we have had calls and letters returned back to the district, thanking us for those cards.” 

Those who fill out five valentines are entered in a raffle for one of two $100 Hollister gift cards, but the external motivation is far from the only reason students choose to participate. With a large military population in Murrieta, the need to show gratitude to veterans is widely realized.  

Said school board member Linda Lunn, who has been working the table with Rieber, “Number one, we have a civic duty- to be good citizens, give back to our community, to recognize the sacrifice that our soldiers and our service families have to go through to keep us safe and to protect us.” 

Lunn’s husband has been deployed to Afghanistan three times for seven months out of the year, forcing him to miss holidays and birthdays with his family as he serves his country.  

“For him be away from us- from my girls, and me, and the house, the dog… He’s out there, in the middle of the desert, and he gets a card from some child, somewhere in the United States, that says ‘I appreciate you,’” recalled Lunn. “And it’s really important, and it makes a huge difference.” 

Students can choose to make cards at lunch or during their class time. The value of appreciating veterans is not lost on Vista’s students, who take time to write sincere messages to the people who have defended their safety and freedom.  

“I think they need to know that we appreciate them for their hard work and what they did, for their time and sacrifice,” said Mikaila Williams, ‘21, after finishing a valentine. 

The valentines are sent to facilities of the nonprofit service organization Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the federal agency United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which are located across the nation, including in Puerto Rico. They also go to military bases in Germany and Afghanistan via the United Service Organizations (USO), as well as to resources in San Diego for homeless veterans.  

Vista has participated in the Valentines for Vets program on and off for nine years. The Murrieta Valley Unified School District orchestrates a contest between its member schools, from elementary to high, to see which can create the most Valentines. The winner will receive a trophy to reward their dedication. Vista is competing against other high schools, including Murrieta Valley, the current champions. Thus far, 6,000 valentines have been counted, and will continue to pour in as the event continues throughout this week.  

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