Members of the Round Lake Area Exchange Club recently celebrated the Americanism Project, Hometown Hero, with more than 80 students from Round Lake Unit District 116 high school and both middle schools.
With the help of the NICASA's after-school program, the students write encouraging and engaging letters each month that are sent in the "Hanging with Heroes" care packages mailed out to the Hometown Hero.
The club members solicit sponsorships from local businesses and families, and these sponsorships allow the packages to be filled with snacks, goodies and any requested items.
"I'm proud that we have always been able to send all the requested items for our heroes," said Sherry Ridge, chair of the program.
The students were also greeted by soldiers serving in the U.S. Army, Sgt. First Class Julius Frazier and Ranger Specialist John Mikrut.
Frazier was the club's January 2012 Hometown Hero and currently works at the Army Recruiting Office in Round Lake Beach. Mikrut is Ridge's son, currently home on block leave before another deployment.
Also speaking with the students was the club's first hometown hero, retired U.S. Marine CWO Bruce Johnson. Johnson gave the teachers who attended 10,000 Afghanistan dollar bills and the students were in awe of this, even when Johnson told them the U.S. value of each was 30 cents.
This program is a successful community collaboration between the Round Lake Area Exchange Club, District 116 students, NICASA, Artrageous and monthly sponsors.
This year's sponsors are Robert E. Frank Real Estate Inc., retired State Rep. Sandy Cole, Consumers Credit Union, NICASA, Round Lake Area Park District, Village of Round Lake Beach Trustee Judy Armstrong, BEST, Dr. Connie Collins, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, Collision Solution and Sherrydebtfree.com.
Any and all military personnel serving overseas or in the U.S. from any of the Round Lake Areas, Hainesville, Fox Lake or Ingleside qualify for the program. They can be registered by visiting www.rlaexchange.org/hero.
For more information, visit the website or contact Ridge at (847) 740-2379.