WEST ORANGE, NJ – “We Love Our Heroes,” a local group comprised of friends and parishioners of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Roseland, recently set out to ship cards and supplies to military troops around the world.

All eleven schools in the West Orange School District once again answered the call to create Holiday Cards for the troops with a resounding “yes,” as more than 1,000 cards headed out this week to troops around the world.

This year’s packages are heading to Southeast Asia, Turkey, Japan, Bahrain, Fort Benning in Georgia, two Navy ships currently deployed and a few confidential addresses that cannot be disclosed.

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The recipients will be military from the Navy, Army and Marines.

According to Suzanne Pennell, a West Orange resident and mother of Naval Academy midshipman Dylan Pennell (WOHS Class of 2014), “feedback was one hundred percent grateful and positive.”

“The troops were especially appreciative of the beautiful handmade cards made by our West Orange students as a personal touch means a lot to them,” she said. 

Students had to opportunity to learn that there are young men and women from their own community and cities and towns across the country who swore an oath to defend and protect the United States of America in military service. With that service comes the possibility of long-term deployment, often in places that are unstable and dangerous.

A simple thank you, a small care package, a handwritten or drawn card can mean a lot to the troops and helps to sustain them during long days and many months apart from family and friends. Students said they were excited to create the cards as a thank you to those in military service, as reported by all the principals.

“As the mother of a son who will be deployed on a US Navy ship in less than two years, I cannot say enough how grateful military families are for packages and letters to our troops,” said Pennell. “The response from our West Orange Public Schools has again been exceptional and overwhelming.”

Pennel thanked Superintendent Jeff Rutzky for his “incredible support” as well as the individual principals, teachers and staff for encouraging their students to participate and create.

“Most of all, [thank you] to the awesome students of all our public schools for their willingness to share a little love and kindness with those serving our country,” she said.

Some cards have already been delivered to Fort Benning. Sgt. Kerry Wells sent the following note in response:

"Thank you guys so much from soldiers located at FT Benning, GA. During this specific time we would all love to be spending time with our families for the holiday season but are currently in training. Thank you for taking the time to think of us and know that this gesture will never be forgotten. Again, thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts."