DEAR LOVED ONES of World Trade Center victims:
"I'm sorry for what happened at the trade center. Go on with life, do it for them. Believe in the government and President Bush. They'll bring the people to justice. Nobody will escape. All will live to regret what they've done. Always remember them. Your loved ones." - Matt Odom
"I am so sorry that the people you loved and treasured got killed in a terrible plan by evil people. Don't feel so bad because I'm sure your friends and family that died loved you so much. They will probably never forget you in heaven. Remember that when our country finds out who did this terrible act, they will be fully punished. ... If I could do something about this I would." - Jenny Diamond
"I am extremely sorry about what happened to your loved ones. I really wish there was something I could do to help. I realize that you have lost someone very close to you but they have gone to a better world now. Don't give up hope, believe in your country and yourself. Even if people you love are not next to you, they are still with you. They're in [your] heart and your brain." - Courtney Case
Since Sept. 11, letters such as these written by Robert Moton Elementary School pupils have been making their way to victims, their families and friends. They are letters of hope, fear, regret and gratitude.
Within each letter is one common thread - the urgent desire to do something, to show that they care. Local schools are responding to that need.
The Robert Moton community is collecting pennies for Pennsylvania, nickels for New York and dimes for D.C. Pupils and teachers at William Winchester are collecting change for disaster relief funds designated for Washington and New York.
Similar collections are taking place at Westminster High School (students and teachers collected more than $1,000 in two days), Friendship Valley Elementary, East Middle School, West Middle School, Sandymount Elementary and Cranberry Station Elementary.
Soon after the disaster, Westminster High School's student government purchased 3,000 red, white and blue ribbons, which many students are wearing.
"Kids feel helpless and small during times like this," said Lori Buccacink, a guidance counselor at Friendship Valley Elementary School. "Everything that we can do as adults to help them put emotions into words, any activities that let them know that they can be helpful and make a difference, gives them some sense of control."
Julie Green's fifth-grade class at Moton and Cheryl Watt's first-grade class at Friendship Valley started planning designs for and piecing together squares for quilts they plan to send to firefighters and police officers in New York.
At the center of the quilt, Green's class will applique a firetruck, cut from material that reads "America the Beautiful." John Gartrell, husband of the school's structured learning assistant Shirley Gartrell, will put finishing touches on the quilt.
"We really wanted to show our support," said Green's pupil Tommy Scotto. "This is fun, and I know the firemen will feel good when they get the quilt."
Squares throughout the Friendship Valley quilts will include the children's drawings of flaming buildings with firetrucks approaching, a bald eagle, flags and messages such as "You're our heroes" and "We love you."
"Cards, posters, projects, collections all give students a positive direction - a way to know that everyone is part of what is going on," said Barbara J. Bankard, assistant principal at West Middle School. "This is an opportune time for children to learn the importance of reaching out, instead of focusing on the violence."
Living treasure honored
Westminster resident Cindy Smith called to honor her husband, Craig, as her living treasure. The Smiths celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary last week, and their relationship, Cindy said, is a tribute to her great-aunt Leola Richardson and Leola's husband, Golden Richardson.
"There are many things that I learned from Leola that I hope to mold into my life, but perhaps one of the most important things was her commitment to her husband and their happiness," Cindy said. "Leola and Golden were with each other 24-seven, working hard, but they always held hands, and I don't think they had a cross word for each other."
Living Treasures in Carroll County are featured at the end of this column each week. Send in a few lines honoring someone who has made a difference in your life.
Their gesture of kindness may be big or small. What matters is that it made a positive difference. Send to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157.
Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.