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Handmade Valentines From Westchester Kids Warm Hearts Of Harrison Veterans

Middle school students from Byram Hills -- Caroline Kelly, Emily Ragals and Arielle Ragals -- distributed handmade valentines to Harrison veterans including Joe Mazzullo, far left. Assemblyman David Buchwald is next to Mazzullo.
Middle school students from Byram Hills -- Caroline Kelly, Emily Ragals and Arielle Ragals -- distributed handmade valentines to Harrison veterans including Joe Mazzullo, far left. Assemblyman David Buchwald is next to Mazzullo. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Harrison VFW Commander Fred Neale, left, and other veterans look at Valentine's cards distributed by Armonk students.
Harrison VFW Commander Fred Neale, left, and other veterans look at Valentine's cards distributed by Armonk students. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

HARRISON, N.Y. -- "How am I going to explain to my wife that I got two Valentine's cards this year?" Korean War veteran Rayot DiFate of West Harrison asked Caroline Kelly, a Byram Hills seventh-grader, as she handed him a card with hearts on it Wednesday.

Kelly, president of the H.C. Crittenden Middle School VIP/Leo Service Club in Armonk, got the joke and smiled.

More than 4,000 handmade Valentine's Day cards were delivered this week by Westchester school children as part of state Assemblyman David Buchwald's second annual “Valentines for Vets” program.

“Last year’s program was such a success, and I’m delighted to see that this year 13 schools were eager to participate,” said Buchwald, D-White Plains. “Military veterans deserve to be recognized for the sacrifice they have made to defend our country. It’s inspiring to see that the next generation understands how important it is to give back to those who have given us so much.”

A Valentines exchange was made Wednesday night at the Harrison Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, and Thursday at Parsons Memorial Elementary School, also in Harrison. Other holiday card distributions were planned at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Montrose and other American Legions and senior centers.

Fred Neale, commander of the Harrison VFW Post, said, "I'm very happy to have you ladies here. It’s very heartwarming to know that children in our community really do have an appreciation for us veterans, just that you're aware of where we came from. Thank you for caring."

Emily Almeida, a teacher at Parsons Elementary, said, “It was such a pleasure to see the excitement the students felt coloring these cards, and I know they will be just as excited to deliver them to local veterans."

Other schools that participated in this year’s “Valentines for Vets” program include: George Washington Elementary in North White Plains, John Jay Middle School in Cross River, Meadow Pond Elementary in South Salem, Mount Kisco Elementary, Pound Ridge Elementary, Pequenakonck Elementary in North Salem, Valhalla Middle School, West Patent Elementary in Bedford Hills, White Plains Middle School – Highlands Campus, Increase Miller Elementary in Goldens Bridge and Westlake Middle School.

Last year, with the help of Salvatore Monastra, a Vietnam veteran from West Harrison, Buchwald authored and passed a bill requiring local governments to display the Prisoner of War and Missing in Action flag when it is provided to them by a local veterans organization.

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