As we headed back to school in the fall, we were under the impression that our hybrid learning plan would only go on for six weeks. We adapted to a two-day in-person and three-day online schedule with only half of the students at the school on every given day which this learning model has continued as of today. We have navigated through a different way of learning, a different way of interacting with our peers, and a different way of running WVS. Where we would normally meet personally before and after school to brainstorm ideas for volunteering, we now have to hold meetings via Google Meets after school hours. We are still holding out hope and planning for spring bake sales, t-shirt fundraisers and more to raise for money for veterans and our town!
Thankfully, we have been able to continue the Kindness During Quarantine Project that we started in April 2020- giving weekly handmade cards to our Simsbury Seniors. Please check out the Gallery tab to view the various handmade cards created!
Right now we are very excited to have SHS winter sports start on Tuesday, and are hopeful that as sports, classes and school activities go on, we will be able to make our fundraising plans come to fruition.
It is amazing to think that a project that our president Devyn Latorre started in quarantine has been bringing so much joy for almost 5 months! Even though school will be starting next week and our lives much busier, WVS plans on continuing to make and deliver handmade cards every week for our Simsbury seniors. We truly are touched when seeing their smiling faces when receiving the cards and looking at pictures that the seniors bring in of the cards decorating their homes.
Below is a picture from early this morning of our president and Kathleen Marschall, Simsbury Senior Center Coordinator holding this week's handmade cupcake shaped cards with the saying " You bake me happy!" Our Simsbury seniors, truly make us so happy!
Please feel free to check out more pictures of the Kindness During Quarantine Project under the Gallery tab.
President Devyn Latorre received a wonderful email from Kathleen Marschall with the Town of Simsbury Social Services thanking WVS for their incredible efforts! Below is a copy of the email:
Thank you again, you and your organization are the BEST!!
I want to thank the members of Wounded Vets Strong, Simsbury High School for all their efforts creating handmade cards with heartfelt messages for the members of the Simsbury Senior Center during the coronavirus outbreak.
Each week since early April these cards have been given to older adults at our weekly meal distribution outdoors in our parking lot.
This project has made an enormous difference to those who have received them, letting them know people are thinking of them and helping them to stay connected as they are encouraged to socially isolate to stay safe and healthy,
Thank you again for lifting so many spirits and spreading joy to members of your community.
Simsbury Senior Center Coordinator
Town of Simsbury Social Services
WVS hopes to continue bringing smiles to others as long as we can! Thank you again to Ms. Marschall for allowing WVS to support our town!
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Town of Simsbury has cancelled the Simsbury Memorial Day Parade on May 25, 2020. Therefore, WVS will not be holding the annual Simsbury Memorial Day Bake Sale benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). This year would have marked the 10th anniversary of the bake sale. We are hoping to host a fundraiser for the WWP once we are able to do so. Stay tuned!
Please feel free to check out our Gallery tab to view pictures of past Simsbury Memorial Day Bake Sales from 2011-2019.
At the start of the school year, WVS set up a stand at the SHS Activities Fair. We shared our cause with the incoming freshmen and were able to recruit new members. In addition to monthly meetings, WVS continued to raise money for our charities by selling merchandise and collecting donations before the home football games. Go Trojans! As Veteran's Day approached, WVS officers and members supported the SHS Tech Department by helping make Freedom Pens for their annual fundraiser. WVS participated in the morning SHS Veteran's Day ceremony as the SHS faculty and staff who served our country were honored and presented with Freedom Pens and flowers.
As the winter months passed by, we were anxiously awaiting for warmer weather to come as we planned for fundraising events in the spring. WVS hoped to raise money by selling merchandise and baked goods at many of the home SHS outdoor athletic events, and to continue our tradition of the 10th Annual Simsbury Memorial Day Bake Sale. However, with the rise of COVID-19 and the global pandemic affecting school, work, and day-to-day life, our big plans for the rest of the school year were put on hold.
Actively searching for another way to help, President Devyn Latorre reached out to the Town of Simsbury Social Services and organized the Kindness During Quarantine Project. WVS would create cards and letters for seniors in need which would be included in a weekly package of a fresh meal and groceries. These cards, though small in size, have already brought huge smiles to the people of our town to show them just how much WVS cares. We started this project the first week of April and plan to continue bringing joy to others as long as we can! Please check out our Gallery tab to view pictures of some of the cards created, positive texts received, and smiling faces of the recipients!
We are still in the middle of this quarantine, as we are taking classes virtually and anxiously awaiting for the warm summer weather. However, WVS will continue to support our veterans and our town as we all heal from the events of this year. We have big plans for this next school year, and cannot wait to meet with our officers and members again to plan for more fundraisers to come!
The 2018-2019 school year was filled with many exciting events! The First event of the year was the Simsbury High School Activities fair. Many new students joined our club in supporting our amazing charities- Wounded Warrior Project® and Fisher House™. In November, our club sold WVS apparel and merchandise at Simsbury High School home football games. On Veterans Day, WVS participated in school events honoring military faculty members and in the evening, hosted a Veterans Day fundraiser at Joe Pizza in Simsbury. During the holiday season, WVS held a gift wrapping event at Barnes and Noble in Canton where members wrapped customer gifts for a small donation. A big thank you to Barnes & Noble for allowing our club to participate in their first community holiday fundraiser. Also, at the local Starbucks Coffee, WVS provided a display where patrons could hand write holiday cards to military members. The hard written cards were personally delivered by WVS members to a Connecticut Military Hospital in time for the holidays. Our club also hosted a fundraising event at the popular local Chipotle restaurant. This event was held on a Saturday night where everyone was able to enjoy a weekend dinner among fellow Simsbury students and families while supporting our charities. For the remainder of the school year, our members were busy baking and selling baked goods for the many bake sales that our club organized. WVS held successful bake sales at Simsbury Travel Basketball Club games, Simsbury High School, and our big yearly event, the 9th Annual Simsbury Memorial Day Bake Sale! Overall, we are very proud of how successful our club has been for the past years in raising money and awareness for wounded veterans!
After a successful volunteer event at the Bristol Half Marathon and Relay in August, WVS members were excited to start raising money for our charities - Wounded Warrior Project® and Fisher House™. The school year began with WVS officers participating in the Simsbury High School Activities fair. WVS manned an informational booth to encourage incoming freshman to join our club and support our efforts. Many students signed up on the spot. Our very first official fundraising event was a bake sale at Fitzgerald’s Grocery Store in September. WVS members provided an incredible amount of baked goods which were sold throughout the day. We even had a special mascot, a 6lb Yorkshire Terrier named Crush, who helped raise money! We must admit, the puppy was a fan favorite!
Veterans Day, November 11th was a very special day for WVS. WVS helped organize and participated in the early morning school ceremony to honor veteran facility members. WVS also provided special gifts and cards for each veteran faculty member. WVS officer Keara Dennehy also spoke on behalf of Mr. Bashelor, a military veteran and admired teacher who recently passed from cancer. That same evening, WVS organized and hosted the first ever Friends of Fisher House CT Veterans Day Fundraising Dinner benefitting Fisher House™. After countless hours of planning, coordinating details with school officials, selling tickets, inviting local military veterans, securing raffle donations, obtaining sponsorships, decorating and more, WVS hosted an incredibly successful event through the efforts of WVS officers, members, Simsbury high school community and local towns. The Simsbury High School groups, No Fella A cappella and Symptoma Band performed at the event, as well as local singer/songwriter Peter Janizzu. The most important speaker of the night was Kevin Creed, founder of Friends of Fisher House of CT who thanked everyone for their support and clearly shared his passion for supporting Fisher House™. The delicious dinner was provided by the local caterer, Kanes Catering. Simsbury High School teacher Chef Lestrud and the Simsbury High School Culinary Classes provided the desserts, along with a Fisher House decorated cake donated by Big Y. The local Starbucks Coffee supplied the coffee and fixings for all the guests. The night ended with announcing the raffle winners. One lucky attendee won the big prize - 2 tickets to see the Broadway play, Wicked in NYC.
WVS continued to find creative ways to raise money for our charities. At one of the last home football games, WVS hosted the ‘Best Seat in the House’ fundraiser. WVS members sold raffle tickets before the football game then a winner was chosen at the start of the game. The lucky winner and 4 guests sat on a comfy sofa right at the end zone! Also, free hot chocolate and cookies were provided to the winner and guests.
In the winter, WVS held bake sale fundraisers at the Simsbury Travel Basketball Club games. We provided delicious treats to Simsbury and opposing team basketball players in grades 1-8 and their fans!
Finally, WVS hosted the Annual Simsbury Memorial Day Bake Sale benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project®. The Simsbury ABC House advisor and Simsbury High School faculty member, Mr. Scott Nielson was so kind to let WVS host the bake sale on the front lawn of the ABC House, along the parade route! WVS raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project® and supported the community members marching in the parade. For the 8th year in a row, this was another successful bake sale event fundraising for this amazing charity!
For the second year in a row, Wounded Vets Strong was proud to volunteer at the 5th Annual Bristol Half Marathon and 10K Race to benefit Fisher House CT®. This Sunday, August 13th, seven members of our club and a few amazing parent volunteers arrived at the Healthtrax in Bristol at 6:30am for a sunny and energetic morning of fun. Starting with our sunrise arrival, we helped set-up the event as well as make sure that it went smoothly until the very end. Our volunteers handed out waters and medals, organized trophies, facilitated a Kids Fun Run, and manned our Wounded Vets Strong tent selling t-shirts and pens for Fisher House CT®.
Our club is so proud of our president, Haley Latorre, as she is working closely with Fisher House CT® as an intern. Throughout this spring and summer, Haley helped the organization to plan and prepare for the kids fun run, half marathon, and the 10K event, always keeping in mind the ways that WVS could help out and bring its efforts directly to the organization itself in Bristol. WVS will continue to support Fisher House CT® any way that we can, especially through this exciting annual event.
By Keara Dennehy, 2017-18 Vice President of Communications
We are excited to share that Wounded Vets Strong President Haley Latorre and our club are, once again, featured on the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) website. Wounded Vets Strong is very proud to fundraise for WWP® and will continue to encourage people to support their great cause.
By Keara Dennehy, Vice President of Communications