Provide students with note cards or paper to write letters to veterans. Students who are too young to write letters can color pictures of the American flag or other U.S. symbols. Collect the letters and deliver them to the local veterans hospital or a veterans service organization, or give them to veterans who attend a Veterans Day program at your school.
Take a Collection
Ask students to collect items to make patients’ stays at a veterans hospital more pleasant. Call the Voluntary Service Office at the nearest veterans hospital to find out what items are needed, or look up the facility needs list online.
Another option is to collect items for care packages for active duty troops. We’ve rounded up a list of organizations that send care packages to troops during the holiday season and anytime. Be sure to carefully review each organization’s guidelines; some items don’t hold up well on a trip overseas.
Sponsor a simple fundraiser like a penny war to raise money for a local veterans association or memorial. As an incentive, allow the winning class to spray silly string or throw a pie at the teacher of their choice.
Arrange a Performance
Students often learn patriotic songs for school programs. The parent group at a Michigan school turned its patriotic student concert held in the spring into an after-school event with games, hamburgers, and hot dogs. If a student concert is on the calendar for your school, see if you can arrange a time for students to perform at a veterans hall or hospital or a local assisted living center. After the program, encourage students to introduce themselves to veterans and to visit for a while.
Honor Family Members
If your PTO is involved with planning a Veterans Day assembly, encourage students to invite family members who served in the military. Have families fill out a form ahead of time with the veteran and student names, how they are related, and the branch of the military the family member served in. Post the information on a bulletin board or in a PowerPoint presentation that plays as people arrive for the assembly.
Take a photo of each veteran and the student who invited him or her. Give the veteran a copy of the photo, if possible. If space allows, publish the photos in the school yearbook or display them on a bulletin board. After the assembly, invite veterans to visit their student’s classroom and talk with the class, if they feel comfortable doing so.
Get To Know a Veteran
Unless they have a family member who served in the military, some students don’t understand what being a veteran means. Your group can help by inviting local veterans to meet students. Each year a Virginia school near a U.S. Army base asks soldiers to an event called “Straight Talk With Soldiers,” where students can ask questions.
During its weeklong Veterans Week, the PTO at a Texas school invited speakers from a local veterans group to visit classes. In addition, a teacher who served in Afghanistan with the Army Reserve gave a lunchtime demonstration of how to carry and pack a rucksack.
And one more easy way to mark Veterans Day: Go big with a graphic on your website and social media channels to make sure everyone in your community knows about the occasion and its importance to your PTO. We know you’re busy, so feel free to use the graphic below on your own pages.
Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly