The following article is courtesy of the Chicago Tribune / Lake County News-Sun
Cards from children among the Valentine’s gifts shared with Lovell Center veterans
By: Yadira Sanchez Olson – News-Sun
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Surrounded by pink, white and red decorations, Navy veteran David Brown took spoonfuls of strawberry shortcake and sipped from red punch at a party Tuesday hosted at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in celebration of Valentine’s Day.
The 73-year-old said he had more sweets than he usually allows himself, but seeing that the ladies of the American Legion Auxiliary made the treats just for them, he wasn’t going to pass on any.
Brown was one of more than 100 veterans at the health care facility’s community living center in North Chicago who were treated to a variety of displays of affection and appreciation by community members and well-wishers across the state.
“People are so generous and nice,” Brown said after reading a Valentine’s Day card written by a little girl whose name he could best make out to be Anariana.
The girl’s name was enclosed in a heart, and Brown said the words she wrote on his card touched his heart: “Thank you for keeping (us) safe. You are brave.”
“Kids are great,” Brown said.
Before the day was over, thousands of Valentine’s Day cards, candy and gifts were delivered to the health care center, sent by schoolchildren from across Lake County and from businesses and individuals as far away as Washington and Utah.
“It’s through social media that we get the word out,” said Mary Carmody of the Midwest Veterans Closet.
On Tuesday, Carmody led a group from the nonprofit organization to different areas of the health care facility, delivering boxes filled with hand-made Valentine’s cards and goodie bags with heart-shaped chocolates and cookies.
This marked the third year the Veterans Closet collected the gifts and cards for veterans who reside at the center. This year, 2,000 items were collected, most of them from students from schools across Lake County.
The one that 94-year-old Adrienne Burke took a liking to was one written in red, white and blue markers. “Thank you for your service! Have a great day!” the card read.
Burke said it was indeed a good day, since she got to get out of her room and socialize with her friends.
“That was thoughtful,” Burke said of the card made by a local school student, which included the words “Thank You!” inside a bright red heart.
“You have to consider these are children doing this,” she added. “Children are very serious about their artwork.”
The pink and red carnations delivered by the Disabled American Veterans group made Burke smile, too.
“I like roses and carnations,” Burke said.
Yadira Sanchez Olson is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.