Return to Headlines

Students Spread Holiday Cheer to Troops Overseas

Students in the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison (OHM) BOCES Bridges program and Middle Settlement Academy (MSA) recently helped spread some holiday cheer to members of the U.S. Navy deployed overseas.

Students from the OHM BOCES Bridges program and MSA created holiday cards to send to sailors who are currently deployed on the USS Abraham Lincoln, including Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Tobin who is an Aviation Ordinanceman and the son-in-law of OHM BOCES Account Clerk Michele North.

The sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln left Norfolk, VA on April 1, 2019, and had been operating in the North Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman region since May 9. They were recently relieved from that area and are making their way to their new home port of San Diego, CA.

Students from the Bridges program first wrote to the sailors for Memorial Day 2019, when they created 50 cards decorated with flags, pictures of the aircraft carrier and other patriotic images to thank the men and women for their service and keeping our country safe. Many of the students also shared their hobbies and information about their families, some of whom served in the armed forces as well. The idea for students to make the cards began with a conversation between North and Principal of Special Education Programs Ellen Mahanna, who both thought the project would be a great way for students to learn about Memorial Day and the U.S. Armed Forces. The lesson came full circle when each student who had made a card received a thank you note in return from Tobin’s commanding officer.

The sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln were originally scheduled to return home in October, but their deployment was extended to February, meaning they would still be away for the holidays. When North found out that Tobin’s deployment had been extended, she once again reached out to Mahanna to see if the Bridges students would make holiday cards for the sailors. With the Memorial Day cards being such a success in the Bridges program, North decided to also reach out to Alternative Education Supervising Principal Mary Lourdes Tangorra who was more than happy to be involved as well.

Bridges and MSA students made approximately 100 holiday cards featuring Christmas trees, drawings of the aircraft carrier, Frozen characters and other holiday scenes to send to the USS Abraham Lincoln. Students also shared their hobbies, thanked the sailors for their service and sent well wishes for the holiday season.

North and her daughter, Tobin’s wife Kelsey, enjoyed reading each of the cards before sending them on to Tobin and his fellow sailors. “I can’t thank Bridges and MSA enough for taking the time to make the cards,” said North. “My son-in-law and all of the people in his division truly enjoy receiving them!”

North hopes to have Tobin make a special visit to meet the Bridges and MSA students once he returns home.