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Bayside kids show love to veterans for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is usually meant for lovers to show their appreciation for a special someone, but a group of Bayside schoolchildren decided to use the holiday to give back to the men and women who fought for their freedom.

The elementary school students joined teen volunteers at the Queens Public Library’s Bayside branch Friday afternoon for a generous arts and crafts session. The after−school group created Valentine’s Day cards and gifts to the veterans who are residing at the VA Hospital in St. Albans.

“Some of the vets are really sick or lonely and we want to help them out,” said Judy Gordon, the branch’s children’s librarian.

After listening to a story on the history of Valentine’s Day, the kids sprang to their arts and crafts tables and began to work with the teenage volunteers. Using construction paper, glue, glitter and other materials, the 14 children created beautiful Valentine cards, thanking the veterans for their years of service and wishing them to get well soon.

In addition to the cards, the group created homemade items that would come in handy for the recovering veterans, such as cloth pouches, bookmarks and eyeglass holders.

“They like the arts and crafts,” Gordon said about the kids. “We talk about the fact that they are doing something good and they like that they are doing things for other people.”

The elementary school artists were not the only ones having fun with the project. Several of the teens made their own cards, which will be sent to the St. Albans hospital on Saturday, including Angela Cheung. The 15−year−old Benjamin Cardozo High School sophomore spent many nights after school creating 18 cards for the troops.

“They’re heroes of this country and fought with their heart,” said Cheung, who has no member of the armed services in her family. “We should give something back.”

The library began the project four years ago after Gordon saw a flyer for the Valentines for Vets program offered by state Assemblywoman Ann−Margaret Carrozza (D−Bayside). The librarian said she liked the idea and called the assemblywoman’s office to see how she and the library’s after−school group could help.

“It was very simple. They said, ‘Just bring up the cards,’ ” Gordon recalled.

Since it started, the library has donated dozens of cards and gifts to veterans at different hospitals. Margaret Gibson, the branch’s young adult librarian, said the vets were thrilled to receive the Valentines and said they would be impressed with the work the kids and teens did this year.

“They’re going to feel so special,” she said. “The kids put their heart into it.”

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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