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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Patriotic Student Alliance gives gifts to veterans

Lincoln Frank
The flag. The Patriotic Student Alliance works to aspire to traditional American values and help those in need.

All around the country, there are veterans residing in living facilities set up by the government to help support them as they once supported the country. One such facility is the Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home, which is one of six government sponsored veterans’ homes in Pennsylvania.

According to Patriotic Student Alliance adviser Thomas Fox, giving back to veterans is an important thing to do, especially around the holidays. That’s why annually, the Patriotic Student Alliance spends time and money to provide gifts for veterans around the holidays.

“Patriotic Student Alliance is a club that was formed about 15 years ago that me and a former teacher started and our goal is to serve our veterans in the community in different ways. We’ve done a lot of different things through the years,” Fox said.

Specifically, the club provides gifts for veterans who don’t have family members to celebrate the season with. Fox believes that doing so helps the veterans enjoy their holiday.

“Every year, Hollidaysburg veterans home gets this little list of individuals that don’t have a family. We got five this year and the district will get a foundation grant and we were able to buy gifts for five veterans without family. Like this one guy, we met with his family. He’s kind of estranged from his kids, and it really made his holiday,” Fox said.

In addition to the holiday gifts, the club hands out Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to veterans, as well as performing various other deeds to give back to the community.

“We serve holiday meals out there. We didn’t get to do Christmas or Thanksgiving, but we’ve done other activities. We have even cleaned up monuments before,” Fox said.

Senior Ava Rokosky also believes in the importance of helping these veterans through the holiday season.

“It’s important because the veterans that we got are veterans without families, and the holidays can be tough at that time, so as students we are giving back to people who helped us and fought for our rights to live in the society we live in,” Rokosky said.

The organization tries to stay involved with these kinds of events year round, beyond just the holiday season. Rokosky believes that it is very important to stay involved outside of just the holiday season.

“The holidays are a big time, but also looking out for non-holiday times like February. Oftentimes, different organizations will help around the holidays, but then after that, it’s important to make sure you still stay involved,” Rokosky said.

In addition to helping veterans feel the holiday spirit, this opportunity also allows Patriotic Student Alliance members to see firsthand what it’s like to give back to the community. Senior Caleb Fries is one such member who enjoyed providing these veterans with gifts.

“We went to the veterans home to deliver their presents, we wrapped them the day before and went there to deliver the presents. Of course, due to protocols there, we had to stay distant and wear masks but it was so great to be able to see their faces light up whenever they received their gifts and it was very heartwarming to see how much joy that we can bring,” Fries said.

Fries believes that the process of giving back to veterans not only fulfills the one receiving a gift, but the one giving it as well.

“I’ve seen some veterans that have been labeled as antisocial immediately light up with joy as soon as we walk into the room and they see their presents all wrapped for them, I’ve seen their laughter, and even some tears of joy, and I just know that it means a whole lot to them and it really warms my heart to see their eyes just light up like that,” Fries said.

The Patriotic Student Alliance stands for the belief that giving back to the community and helping out the less fortunate is one of the most noble things a person can do. They look forward to doing the same activities and more next year.

“I think it’s really fun to give back around the holidays because that is a special time for people and it’s most often people get together during that time. And it’s not always easy to do that whenever you’re in a veteran’s home. So I think it’s important to be with veterans on those holidays, whether that be gift giving or serving them Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s just really important to be around during those special times because that’s often the time people need help the most,” Fries said.

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About the Contributors
Lincoln Frank
Lincoln Frank, Reporter
This is my second year on the newswriting staff. I mostly write opinion columbs on topics that I find important. This year, I plan to start a podcast with a friend on staff. After high shcool, I plan on majoring in marketing and eventually working in a marketing position.
Brandon Auker
Brandon Auker, Reporter

My name is Brandon Auker, and this is my first year on the Mountain Echo staff. I've always loved writing, and even considered a career in journalism for sports. In my freetime, I like to hangout with my friends, watch sports and play video games.

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