When Shaker High School seniors Elizabeth Mattison, Meghan Crunden, Allyson Matrassi and Claire Donlon were assigned their Human Rights Advocacy Project in their English class, they knew that they wanted to do something surrounding the military.
The English project has the students consider a human rights issue that is important to them and then asks them to develop an advocacy project to raise awareness about the issue, but Mattison, Crunden, Matrassi and Donlon decided to go a step further and take action.
“Elizabeth, Meghan, Allyson and Claire are truly passionate about recognizing the sacrifices of our servicemen and women,” said the students’ English Teacher Thea MacFawn.
“We wanted to help the military in any way we can since they are so courageous and do so much for our country,” said Mattison.
They immediately got to work and reached out to the local chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. to learn how they could help collect items for care packages.
Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. is a nationwide organization made up of mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, foster mothers and female legal guardians who have children serving in the military, guard or reserves, or children who are veterans and are committed to supporting troops currently overseas and away from their families.
The seniors partnered with other teachers at the high school to begin a collection drive of non-perishable food and hygiene items appropriately named “Operation Overload.”
“We decided to name our project ‘Operation Overload,’” said Mattison. “D-Day was referred to as Operation Overlord and the main goal of our project is to overload the donation boxes with all of the goods.”
The seniors enlisted the help of other locations around the area to collect donations including the Rudy A Ciccotti Center, the American Legion in Green Island, the sixth grade classes at Latham Ridge Elementary School, and Myers Middle School.
And along with the donation drive, the students decided they wanted to send “Happy Holiday” messages along with the care packages. They recruited the help of Blue Creek Elementary School students and the sixth grade classes at Latham Ridge studying their own advocacy unit.
“We knew we also wanted to do something with kids,” said Mattison. “And we thought no better way to work with kids then incorporating them in the work we were doing for the military.”
The young women went around to speak with the elementary students and created holiday themed cards for the students to fill out with messages like “Thank you for your service,” “You are our hero,” and “Thank you for protecting our country.”
“Even though we think that the drive is so important,” said Mattison. “We also think that the letters are just as important too.”
“The main thing we are hoping to get out of this is to put a smile on the courageous men and women serving our country,” said Mattison.
“Their dedication and commitment is inspiring and I couldn’t be more proud,” said MacFawn. “Their collaboration with elementary teachers and students and partnership with Blue Star moms has generated an overwhelming response from the community.”
Check out the photos below: