Cardinal Hayes High School writes holiday cards to troops

Cardinal Hayes students (l-r) Charles Molina, Ian Rivera and Donovan Anderson work on Christmas and holiday cards and letters that were put into care packages that were sent to troops in the U.S. military deployed oversees.
Photo courtesy of Cardinal Hayes High School

Students at a borough school wrote loads of holiday cards and letters to U.S. military personnel.

Young men from Cardinal Hayes High School wrote 1,070 Christmas cards and letters to the troops stationed oversees.

The messages of support and thanks were included in care packages sent to soldiers stationed in far-away places during the holidays.

The students wrote the cards between Halloween and Thanksgiving, said Susan Fraleigh, Cardinal Hayes director of special services, adding that this is this the second year the school has provided written thanks to military personnel that will be distributed by United for the Troops.

“Our mission is to serve others,” said Fraleigh, adding “We are trying to inspire and let the men who are serving oversees know that we are thinking about them.”

The packages are distributed to the soldiers through United for the Troops, a Putnam County-based all-volunteer organization founded by James and Patty Rathschmidt.

Each box included five letters or holiday cards each, as well as toiletries, batteries, lip balm and other items soldiers on the move can carry, according to Fraleigh and James Rathschmidt.

Students from art and religion classes at Cardinal Hayes participated, with the some students making their own cards, writing longer letters or including drawings on the uplifting correspondence.

“The boys write about how (the troops) are appreciated here at home and they thanked them for being away from their families so that we can be here with our families,” said Fraleigh.

Miguel Benitez, a Hayes senior, said the card project made him conscious of how much freedom he has as an American and how many people around the world lack freedom.

“I learned to be grateful to people who use their lives so that I can enjoy my freedom,” said Benetiz.

Charles Molina, a Cardinal Hayes senior, said that a motivating factor for his participation in the Christmas card writing project is his cousin, who he said is oversees serving in the U.S. Air Force and will not be home this holiday season.

“It makes me see how it affects you not to have a family with you,” said Molina.

In his letters to the troops, Molina said he wrote about his cousin, adding that he thought it would be fortunate if his cousin got to read one of them.

School senior Johan Tirado said his messages focused on how the troops took time out of their own lives to serve others.

“I felt bad that they could not be home to see their families and I wanted them to feel that someone was thinking about them, and that they have someone to write back to,” said Tirado.

Ian Rivera, a Hayes senior planning on entering the U.S. Marines Corps., said he thinks the cards will help the soldiers realize they aren’t alone.

“You get letters from your family,” said Rivera. “It is still nice to hear from people who may not know you but who thank you for your service.”

To learn more about United for the Troops, visit them at

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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