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Honoring soldiers at the library

Children add their artistry to care packages

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As part of Military Appreciation Month, the Wantagh Public Library joined Military Blue Star Mothers NY14 for a day of creating cards to add to care packages for servicemen and women serving overseas.

The event also included a celebratory activity in which attendees were invited to paint rocks to decorate their homes with. 

Participants in the May 14 event were also encouraged to donate care package supplies, such as nonperishable foods and toiletries, as well as gifts to help military personnel pass the time, like puzzle books.

“We want them to walk away knowing that they did something really good to help somebody that they do not know,” said Andrea Nord-quist, a Bellmore resident who is the president of the local Blue Star Mothers group. “We were amazed that almost all the families that came, except for this one gentleman, did not have any veterans in their family. They just did it because they wanted to help the military.”

“We like to check out children’s rooms in other libraries, and wanted to support the nonprofit,” said Maeve Schulz, of Merrick, who brought her 4-year-old son, Luke. “We’ve been participating in a lot of the library programs that have been outside.”

And it was the perfect day for an outdoor event, with temperatures in the 70s.

“I knew that this would lend itself to an outdoor event,” said Susan Finck, the library’s director of youth services. “We were just hoping for great weather . . . We timed [the event] so that everybody could sign up for a specific time so that we could keep it safe and fun as well.”

But most of all, besides having fun and enjoying a free program at the library, the Blue Star Mothers had the opportunity to teach the children to respect and honor members of the military.

“Children are like little sponges,” Nord-quist said, “so it’s great that they learn at a young age that there’s someone out in the world that’s protecting them, that isn’t home and that they did something to help them.”

The cards are often the most appreciated part of the care packages that the Blue Star Mothers send to members of the military, but the supplies donated by the children’s parents are a huge help as well.  “When we do a packing, it will cost us $12.36 per box, besides having to buy all the supplies,” Nordquist said, “so if we can have a drive like this, where people bring supplies and give us the cards and make donations, it helps offset the cost and makes it a little bit easier for us.”

“We’re trying to get as many people here who can come, to come,” Finck said. “The most important thing is the people. The library can’t really move forward without having all our patrons, and we’ve been fortunate to be open and to be able to offer programs to the patrons.”

In addition to hosting programs like this one, Military Blue Star Mothers NY14 marches in parades, sends supplies to deployed servicemen and women, makes meals for veterans, supports military families and sets up flags at Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum, in Farmingdale, for Memorial Day, among other activities. For more information, email president.ny14@bluestarmothers.us.