Westampton to send notes of support About 540 middle school students will write letters to military personnel from the Burlington County area. Students to send letters of support

Posted: October 28, 2001

WESTAMPTON — To commemorate Veterans' Day, military personnel on active duty will soon be receiving a bundle of letters postmarked from classrooms in New Jersey.

About 540 Westampton Middle School students will pen letters of support to troops deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The letters will go out to men and women from the Burlington County area.

Seventh-grade teacher JoAnn Donnelly proposed the letter-writing project to mark the Nov. 11 holiday after her cousin was deployed to an undisclosed location with the Air Force. Originally, the letters were not going to be addressed to specific service men and women, but a ban on bulk mail by the U.S. military changed that plan.

The school is considering a send-off ceremony for the letters in November, Donnelly said.

"Normally, Veterans' Day is one of those holidays that just gets passed by," she said.

Currently, there are enough names on the list for each classroom to be assigned to two or three service people. But the list could grow. Donnelly said the district plans to conduct a survey to find out how many students have relatives in the military. Those names might be added for future letter-writing projects, she said.

The district does not currently keep a list of military parents, but administrators believe the district has a significant number of reservists - some of whom have already been called for active duty - compared with other local districts. The township is close to McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix and also offers affordable family housing, said Walter Bowyer, the district's superintendent.

"There are many more military [families] here than in other districts I've worked," Bowyer said.

The focus on the military reservists called for active duty has faded recently, and this is a good way to remind everyone of their service, Donnelly said.

"I just want them to know that we're thinking of them," she said.

Lauren Mayk's e-mail address is lmayk@phillynews.com.

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