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Shelby Middle School football players write letters to veteran patients
Krista Haynes, Hospice Cleveland County Patient/Family Volunteer Coordinator with examples of the letters written to patients who are veterans as part of their "We Honor Veterans Program".

Krista Haynes, Hospice Cleveland County Patient/ Family Volunteer Coordinator, got to see first-hand a group of teens doing an act of great kindness.

Haynes said she spoke to the Shelby Middle School Football Team about Hospice Volunteer Opportunities, including the organization's "We Honor Veterans Program".

Haynes said the team wrote letters to Hospice patients who served in the military to thank them for their service.

In the letters, the kid's thanked the veterans for their service, some saying they had a relative who served and made them proud of their country and their families.

"Thank you for your sacrifice," wrote one girl, while others said they were praying for the veteran.

"Attached to each letter," said Ms. Haynes, "was a star from a retired American flag. These letters were then handed out to patients via Hospice staff members."

Shelby Middle School Blue Devils head football coach Justin Bowden, said, "In our program, we are well aware of what's going on in our country's social and political climate and we talk about how it affects not only our family, but our community. Also, we were looking to do a community service project, and with everything going on in our country, we wanted to give something back. So, the kids came up with this!

Coach Bowden continued, "I want my players to be leaders and role models both on and off the field. Hospice gave us this great opportunity to grow as a program."

Bowden, who teaches seventh grade science, said his class "really got into it (the letter writing program) and asked good questions about it."

Haynes said, "As a 'We Honor Veterans' partner, Hospice Cleveland County, learns about the unique needsof veterans and their families.They educate staff and the community about caring for veterans facing serious illness and provide a veteranto- veteran volunteer program that pairs veteran volunteers with hospice patients who are veterans."

She continued, "Hospice also coordinates care with the Department of Veteran Affairs and other health care organizations. By recognizing the unique needs of our nation's veterans who are facing a life-limiting illness, Hospice Cleveland County is better able to accompany and guide veterans and their families toward a more peaceful ending.

"In cases where there might be some specific needs related to the veteran's military service, combat experience, or other traumatic events, Hospice Cleveland County will find tools to help support those they are caring for."

Haynes noted that if anyone would like to know how they can become a Hospice Volunteer, please call (704) 487-4677. Also, please visit them at www.hospicecares.cc to learn more.

Haynes said, "I have to say, that when I left that afternoon, I was really touched by these guys and their coaches. With all that is going on in the world right now, there is still love, hope, and caring that is taking place, and these young men and women and their coaches are proof of that!"

For his and his kids' part, Coach Bowden said, "We enjoyed being able to do this, and this is definitely something we will try and do yearly."

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