GLEN ROCK, NJ - Two brothers, Glen Rock High school students, thankful for holidays with their family, spread the joy to service men and women stationed around the world this holiday season and involved Glen Rock High School students in the process.
John and Andy Martin got the idea from their favorite radio station, NASH-FM (94.7), which was running the thank you program for the second year in a row.
According to the NASH-FM website, nationally syndicated morning show hosts Ty, Kelly and Chuck challenged their audience to create, collect and send 100,000 Thank You letters to troops overseas during the month of November.
Last year, listeners collected more than 175,423 letters to send to deployed service members, and this year, when they were all counted up, they had collected 209,433.
"We felt it was important to explain our strong sense of patriotism and support of service men and women," the Martin brothers said in a joint email statement to TAPinto. "We have many family members and friends that have served in the military, including an uncle, our mother's brother, who is currently serving. We understand first hand the commitment, responsibilities, and sacrifices that this means to the service members and their families."
So, when the two young Glen Rock High School students heard about the national campaign, "100,000 Thank Yous", they "felt compelled to jump into action" and do their share for the soldiers.
"We thought that it would be nice if our whole family--there are 4 children, plus our Mom and Dad--could each write a Thank You card," John said. "As we listened to the radio show, we thought, 'how could we do something bigger, and help the "Ty, Kelly, & Chuck" radio show reach their goal?"
Then, they started thinking bigger.
"We decided if all of Glen Rock High School could write letters, (about 800 students) this would be an awesome project to show support for our troops," John said. "My brother, Andy, and I, thought about how we could get the whole school involved, and we realized that every student has to take an English class, so we drafted an email to our English teachers, Mrs. Mahoney and Mr. Toncic, to see if we could have each student write a card in English class. Mrs. Mahoney is also the chairperson of the High School English Department, so she discussed our project with all of the English teachers. They all agreed that was a worthwhile cause and would allow class time for each student to write a note.
"What was so surprising about this project," Andy said, "is how excited all of the students were to do this project. When we brought all the cards home to count them and bundle them up for mailing, we got to see many of the individual cards and the effort that all the students put into their cards. Many cards had fantastic, beautiful artwork and very thoughtful notes. They were all amazing! Our family read several notes allowed to each other, because of how touching they were."
John informed Glen Rock veteran leaders what they were planning to do. Mike Ennis, the commander of the Glen Rock American Legion, and Bob Steinberg, the commander of the Glen Rock VFW were thrilled and completely on-board.
"We knew that there was a short deadline to get the high school approval, collect the cards, and get the cards to Nashville on time, but we were determined," John said.
"Mr. Steinberg happened to be visiting the high school on one of the days we had our collection box in the English Department office," John explained. "Mr. Steinberg took pictures and also spoke to Mrs. Mahoney about what a great idea this was. Mr. Ennis came over to our house on Thanksgiving to see our collection box and all of the cards we collected. We mailed all of our cards on the Friday after Thanksgiving to ensure that they arrived in Nashville before the deadline."
The brothers extended a special thanks to Mrs. Mahoney who got the idea approved by the English Department, and to all the teachers who allowed the students to use a little bit of class time on the day before Thanksgiving.