DI team visits veterans for service projectDecember 13, 2018
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — Holy Trinity Catholic School third-grader Adalyn Welp stood next to Army veteran Paul Striegel at Brookside Village Wednesday afternoon discussing what the two should paint on their Christmas ornament.
“Do you want to do a snowman?” Adalyn asked.
“Well, I’m not very good at painting,” Striegel replied. “You’ll have to do most of the details.”
The two eventually settled on Christmas lights, and Adalyn set about painting.
She was one of five Holy Trinity third- and fourth-graders who visited Brookside Village Wednesday to create ornaments with the veterans as part of the kids’ Destination Imagination project. Destination Imagination is a creative problem-solving competition for students in elementary school through college that lets teams choose challenges from several categories.
Adalyn and her teammates chose project outreach for their category. For the category, teams choose a community service project to complete and present during the regional competition this spring. Together, the girls chose working with veterans for their project.
“We thought about people who might be lonely,” said fourth-grader Tessa Werne.
That led the girls to think about people in nursing homes, and eventually to thinking about the veterans who sacrificed for their communities. The team chose to focus their project on the veterans as a way to say thank you.
Six veterans attended the girls’ visit: Air Force veterans Jim Stenftenagel and Dale Hasler; Army veterans Art Kempf, Frank Lamkin and Striegel; and Navy veteran Leonard Heeke.
The girls kicked off their visit singing Christmas carols, then they worked on ornaments with the veterans.
“They wanted to do something with them that they could keep,” said Lynn Welp, the team’s coach. “With ornaments, they figured they could put them on their trees.”
While the girls and veterans worked on the ornaments, they talked about the men’s time in the service. Stenftenagel worked as a code breaker in Iceland toward the end of World War II. Hasler flew fighter jets, bombers and cargo planes during his Air Force service, and Striegel spent two weeks on a ship traveling to Yokohama, Japan, during a deployment.
The veterans also recalled keeping in contact with their loved ones via letters during their time in the service. Sometimes, their letters were censored, proof that someone was reading their mail while it was in transit.
The girls were particularly amazed at how young some of the men were when they joined. Striegel, for example, was only 17 when he shipped off to basic training. When the girls asked if he was glad her served, Striegel said he was.
“I wouldn’t have everything I do now if it weren’t for my time in the Army,” he said.
Striegel got his GED thanks to the Army, and he made a career out of serving, retiring from the reserves after 23 years of service. Joining the military taught him responsibility, respect and diligence, he said.
As the visit came to an end, Adalyn gave Striegel a hug.
“Thank you for your service,” she said.
“You’re welcome,” he answered.
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