Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Heather needs your help to thank a veteran November 7, 2012

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Heather Weller after delivering thank yous to veterans at the veterans’ home in Fergus Falls in November 2011.

KRISTI WELLER of New York Mills emailed me this morning asking for help in publicizing a project her 14-year-old daughter, Heather, is undertaking for Veterans’ Day.

For the fourth year, Heather is gathering thank you notes for her “Thank a Veteran” program. You can help by writing and emailing a thank you to veteranthankyou@gmail.com. But hurry. Heather is planning to deliver the emails and handwritten cards she’s collected on Sunday, November 11, Veterans’ Day, to veterans’ homes in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota.

This ambitious eighth grader has collected and distributed more than 8,000 thank yous to veterans and soldiers in three years. How great is that?

Kristi sent me a wealth of information, too much really, to share with you. So I’d suggest checking out Heather’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thank-a-Veteran/116200178444473

Buried in the details of Heather’s charitable work for veterans, I found a particularly profound piece of information shared by her mother. Heather has been teaching 30 students in a 4-H Cloverbud class about gratitude for our veterans. The kindergartners through second graders have made thank you cards that Heather will deliver.

And in the process of teaching these young 4-Hers, Kristi says her daughter learned this: “…most of them thought that a veteran was someone who took care of animals. Kind of sad.”

That is why we need passionate youth such as Heather who appreciate and support veterans through projects like “Thank a Veteran,” “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” Quilts of Valor,” “Project New Hope” and more. Heather educates, speaks, promotes, crafts, thanks.

And she’s planning, too, to gather veterans’ stories for the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Won’t you join Heather in thanking a veteran for his/her service to our country? Again, email your message of gratitude (include your name, town and state) by this Saturday to: veteranthankyou@gmail.com

FYI: To learn more about Heather’s work, click here to read a post I published last November.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo courtesy of Kristi Weller

 

A passion for honoring veterans November 16, 2011

Dear Veteran:

Today, Veterans Day, I honor you—you who gave of yourself to serve our country so that we might live freely.

Because of you, I can pursue my dreams, speak my mind, vote, express myself through my writing and so much more.

As the daughter of a Korean War veteran, I understand the depth of your service to country. For all you have done, thank you. May God bless and keep you in His care always.

With appreciation,

Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Prairie Roots blogger

Faribault, Minnesota

I SENT THE ABOVE short message last week to 13-year-old Heather Weller of New York Mills who was collecting thank you notes to deliver to the Fergus Falls Veterans Home on Veterans Day.

It was the least I could do for this teenager committed to honoring our service men and women.

After submitting my e-mail and blogging about Heather’s “Thank a Veteran” project, I received an e-mail from her mom, Kristi Landwehr Weller, thanking me for supporting her daughter.

I asked her to update me on Heather’s project after Veterans Day. Kristi reports that Heather received 185 e-mails from 42 states and Canada. She also collected 75 handwritten thank you notes at her local county fair, the Minnesota State Fair and 4-H events.

Now if those numbers, geographical locations and efforts aren’t enough to impress you, how about this: Heather collected more than 500 thank you cards and letters from her elementary school and the high school in New York Mills. She also handcrafted 100 cards.

Then this remarkable young woman delivered all those notes and cards to those veterans in that Fergus Falls home. She gathered the e-mails and messages into a binder to leave there.

Heather Weller with some of the letters she gathered at her school and cards she made.

And to impress you even more, Heather also gave Veterans Day speeches at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home and at the New York Mills schools.

Did I mention that Heather turned 13 years old in September?

Her passion for honoring our veterans doesn’t stop with Veterans Day. Says Heather’s mom: “…she collects messages all year round online and in person, gives speeches about her cause, promotes Project New Hope (providing veteran family retreats), makes quilts for Quilts of Valor, visits the vets home all year round, involves the school in Holiday Mail for Heroes and is working on care packages for soldiers…just to name a few things.”

Oh, and recently she participated in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington D.C.

“Seeing the war memorials and hearing about great leaders seems to have made her even more determined to spread the word (about honoring veterans),” Kristi says.

Kristi, who calls herself “just a proud mom,” apologizes for “going on and on” about her daughter.

Well, Kristi, I’d say you have every reason to be proud of Heather for her passion, selfless giving, devotion, hard work, dedication and enthusiasm in honoring our veterans.

Such commitment deserves recognition. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this passionate young woman. I expect that no matter what path Heather follows in life, it will be one that involves giving to others. And that is admirable, admirable, indeed.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Heather’s efforts.

CLICK HERE to read my first post about “Thank a Veteran.”

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos courtesy of Kristi Weller

 

Help Heather thank our veterans November 7, 2011

A young boy peruses the pavers at the Rice County Veterans Memorial in Faribault on September 11.

SOMETIMES I HEAR SNIPPETS of news that truly touch me.

Take the piece I caught today about 13-year-old Heather Weller of New York Mills. For the past two years, she’s made and collected thank you notes to share with veterans on Veterans Day. She’s engaged classmates, family, friends and even strangers in her “Thank a Veteran” project.

Heather has hand-delivered the thank you notes to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls where her great uncle, Korean War veteran Philip Andrie, lived until his death on Christmas Day 2010.

Now, with only days remaining before Veterans Day on Friday, November 11, Heather put out this plea yesterday on her Facebook page:

I’m feeling sad… I have hardly received any Thank you e-mails yet this year. PLEASE just a quick second to e-mail a thank you! Whats a few seconds compared to years of sacrifices that our Veterans made for us?
It is important to Thank our Veterans all year around but right now I especially work on my e-mail campaign to collect as many Thank yous as possible to take the Veterans Homes for Veterans Day. Please send an e-mail thank you to veteranthankyou@gmail.com or to kristiweller@yahoo.com or leave a message on this page by November 9th. I will take the messages to Veterans Homes on Nov 11th. It so important to remind our Veterans & their families that they are Never forgotten! Thank you!

Will you help by leaving a message on Heather’s Facebook page or e-mailing a thank you note that she will deliver to veterans? Heather would like these messages by Wednesday, November 9.

Click here to go to Heather’s “Thank a Veteran” Facebook page.