SILVER CREEK - Students in the Silver Creek Elementary School's art department were able to show their appreciation for the sacrifice soldiers make for America's freedom in a special Flag Day ceremony.
Peace Pillows were given to five representatives of the Silver Creek VFW at the Friday morning ceremony in the elementary library. The pillows will be sent to deployed soldiers from the local area.
"The students put their hearts into these projects," Silver Creek Elementary Art Teacher Denise Williams said. "They wanted to do something special for the troops, and pillows seemed like a good idea."
Students from Silver Creek Elementary School presented members of the Silver Creek VFW with Peace Pillows created during art class. The pillows will be sent to local soldiers deployed overseas. From left to right: Morningstar Halftown, Sam Restivo, past commander of the Marine Corps. League in Sheridan, Summer Yochum, and Ed Fik, commander of the Silver Creek VFW and the Chautauqua County VFW.
In total, 72 Peace Pillows were made from scratch by students in grades three through five and presented to the VFW veterans.
The pillows were made from scrap fabric from past art projects, which were sewed together and stuffed. Williams recalled one of her students saying they could stuff the pillows "like a Build-A-Bear teddy bear."
After creating the small six inch by six inch pillows, pockets with artwork on them were sewn onto the outsides. Inside the pocket, a student put a written message to the eventual troops that the pillows would be delivered to.
The following message by Silver Creek Elementary Art Teacher Denise Williams was included in all 72 Peace Pillows for the soldiers:
"These pillows were made especially for you by the children at Silver Creek Elementary School during their art class. We call them "Peace Pillows" (because both words seem to work well together). The messages the children wrote and the pictures on the pocket came from their innocent minds and pure hearts and so they should all be considered as blessings sent to you. You are such heroes in their eyes. Hold your pillows tight and you will be home and you will be strong ... we already know that you are brave."
"It was great to see the children's reactions when they realized what it was they were sending," School Superintendent Dan Ljiljanich, who stopped by the ceremony, said. "We have a long-standing history in the district of working with the VFW."
Elementary School Principal Scott Rudnicki said the deployed soldiers who will be receiving the pillows are more than just people we know. They're family.
"It's nice whenever our students can honor men and women in the armed services, and this was one of those opportunities," he said.
"One of the students wrote a message saying 'I hope people have prayed for you because you are the Knights of the USA,' referring to our school mascot," Williams said. "Another message was from an exchange student, and it said, 'I'm not from this country, but I always wanted to hold my hand on my heart to America's flag, and now I do. Thank you for what you do for this wonderful country.'"
"It was very encouraging and overwhelming to see these children with a sense of innocence and a sense of people that are risking their lives protecting them," Gloria Olmsted, a member of the Silver Creek VFW Auxiliary, said. "These will be received with such comfort by these people."
The Peace Pillows project was started five years ago by SCCS elementary students who came up with the idea themselves. It was Williams' hope that the project would never have to be repeated as a result of seeing the troops finally come home.
However, she did joke that she never could have thought of the cuddly idea herself. It was all her students' idea.
"Doing good for someone else makes you feel good yourself," Williams said. "It's character development, and this is one way the students could act it in real life."
If you or someone you know has a family member deployed overseas who would like to receive a Peace Pillow, contact Olmsted at 934-4819. Olmsted will be one of the Silver Creek Ladies Auxiliary members coordinating sending the pillows to local soldiers who are actively serving.
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