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Dixie Canyon 5th Grader Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

From the Galatzan Gazette: the Online News Source for Tamar Galatzan's Board District 3 in the San Fernando Valley

A motivated 5th grader from Dixie Canyon Elementary School, with a fascination with wars, battles and history, has started a project to get holiday cards to as many military vets as he can. And he is asking for your help.

Matthew Leonard, 10, started the project at his Sherman Oaks elementary school when he was in third grade. He had been reading books about World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War.

“Everyone was forgetting about them,” Matthew said on a recent Friday morning, standing outside his class in black military-style boots, military fatigues, and a camouflage cap. “I wanted to help out the veterans who didn’t have family over the holidays.”

He called his holiday card drive “Operation: Respect and Honor.”  Students make and collect cards for veterans, and he and his mother bundle them up with ribbon and candy canes and deliver them to a veterans’ transitional living facility in Los Angeles. To date Michael has handed out 1500 holiday cards to vets without families.

“This year, my goal is to gather more than 2,000 cards to do the same, but for more veterans,” he wrote in an email he sent out to other local schools this year, asking for their help. “With your permission, I would like to place a box to collect cards somewhere near your school office. If possible, I’d like to have classrooms do a card creation project to use kid’s imagination to make the cards too…”

Matthew says he has an uncle in the Army, who fought in the Bosnian conflict, but most of his interest in wars, and the men who fought them, comes from his own reading, and playing war games with toy soldiers.

“A little over a year ago, I thought about something,” he wrote in his school newspaper. “War isn’t just a game kids play: it’s a conflict between two or more countries that disagree about laws, religion or leadership. War is real, and those who fight the wars are the men and women who have dedicated their lives to give us freedom. After the war, many of those veterans are forgotten.”

He says every day he wears some sort of military hat (as he is today) and he wants to become a Naval Aviator and attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

If you would like to help Matthew get more cards to the vets, please call his mother, Kimberlee Leonard at 818-270-8820.

For the whole Galatzan Gazette go here: www.galatzangazette.com

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