SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Students at Jesse T. Zoller Elementary sharing the love with local veterans this Valentine’s Day making them hundreds of handcrafted cards. 

“This is so important because it shows someone from the outside world and especially the next generations care about them,” Emil Baker, Volunteer Outreach Specialist for the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, said.

The annual Valentine’s for Veterans program is a 10-year effort by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara to let students thank veterans with hand-written Valentines. Santabarbara, a veteran himself, said these events help the next generation understand the sacrifices they’ve made. 

“These may be lessons that get overlooked sometimes,” Santabarbara said. “Talking about veterans, about what it means to have served our country, to come back home and be a part of our community, to understand those lessons of freedom.” 

“Not only are we teaching our kids kindness and how it feels good to reach out and do kind things for others but we are really showing what it means to sacrifice, what service really means,” Desmond O’Connor, Principal of Jesse T. Zoller Elementary, said.

Baker said the cards are helping thousands of veterans at a time where they’re seeing new challenges with mental health over the course of the pandemic.

“Veterans never thought about kids maybe before this was introduced to them,” Baker said. “It’s so meaningful and it’s the most wonderful thing anyone can do.”  

More than 6,000 cards created from this program will be brought to the VA Tues. morning.