A special bond formed between high school students and local Veterans of Foreign Wars members was the catalyst for a service project that will benefit both retired and active armed services members in Missouri and overseas.

A special bond formed between high school students and local Veterans of Foreign Wars members was the catalyst for a service project that will benefit both retired and active armed services members in Missouri and overseas.

Camdenton High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter, advised by business teacher Angela Sellers and her leadership course through the school’s Communications, Arts and Business (CAB) program, are in the process of wrapping up Project SSS.

Students Supporting Soldiers, or Project SSS, was formed this last semester by members of the chapter after partnering with Camdenton VFW Post 5923 and Missouri Patriot Paws, a non-profit that provides service and therapy dogs for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

The students have visited the local post four or fives times this semester, volunteering their time and efforts to help veterans with their taxes, get to know them and assist in the completion of the post’s new building.

Several members surprised the post with a surprise donation of $3,000 on Monday to go toward finishing the media room of the new building. A random act of kindness, the funds raised through sponsoring the Dairyland Donkey Basketball Show on March 10 were intended to be used to send the students to a national competition in Anaheim, Calif.

When the students realized they were going to come up short of funding, they decided as a group to donate the contributions to the local VFW post.

“They love these people, they’ve been very welcoming,” Sellers said. “They’ve really sort of created a bond with these veterans and wanted to help them out as much as possible.”

On top of the donation to the VFW, through one of the post’s members, Roy Sifuentes, the chapter was put in contact with a group of soldiers deployed in the Middle East. Through minute-to-win-it fundraising competitions held at CHS, in which classrooms collect donations and the winner receives a pizza party, the chapter will also provide over two dozen care packages to a unit of 11 soldiers.

The boxes are all personalized and feature non-perishable food, basic hygiene supplies and hand-held entertainment. The boxes will be sent with hand-made cards in the shape of armed services uniforms with letters of appreciation from younger students as well as hand-made paracord bracelets.

Last but not least, the chapter presented a $500 check to Rosy Sifuentes on Wednesday, on behalf of Missouri Patriot Paws, for the naming rights to a psychiatric service dog that will be provided to a retired armed service veteran who resides in Springfield. The dog, Laker, and the veteran were unable to attend the graduation ceremony due to statewide flooding, but the group plans on remaining in touch with Laker and his new owner.

“This project had raised a substantial amount of money to support those who sacrifice for our country as well as provide a thank you,” member Alondra Chapa said. “Students have worked hard to show the support and gratitude for veterans in our community.”

Chapa, as well as her sister Ariana, along with four other members of the chapter plan to enroll in various branches of the armed services after high school graduation.