Mundelein High student launches club to connect with military troops, veterans

  • Mundelein High School sophomore Matt Pawlowski.

    Mundelein High School sophomore Matt Pawlowski.

  • U.S. Navy veteran Steve Kaminsky, second from right, and U.S. Army veteran Salvatore Prato, right, salute during an assembly honoring military veterans last month at Mundelein High School. That gathering inspired the creation of a new student club.

      U.S. Navy veteran Steve Kaminsky, second from right, and U.S. Army veteran Salvatore Prato, right, salute during an assembly honoring military veterans last month at Mundelein High School. That gathering inspired the creation of a new student club. Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer

  • Mundelein High School social studies teacher Nicole Malham will advise the new Helping Heroes of America club.

      Mundelein High School social studies teacher Nicole Malham will advise the new Helping Heroes of America club. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/8/2017 1:42 PM

Inspired by a recent ceremony honoring military veterans, a Mundelein High School student has launched a club that aims to send care packages to troops overseas, record veterans' stories and assist veterans and active troops in other ways.

Sophomore Matt Pawlowski is behind the new group, which is called Helping Heroes of America.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pawlowski was moved to create the club after attending a Nov. 10 student assembly that honored Mundelein-area veterans, including several Mundelein High alumni.

The community's overwhelmingly positive reaction to a large display of U.S. flags outside the school that week also was a factor, Pawlowski said.

He said he wants to "keep that patriotic spirit alive all year long."

Social studies teacher Nicole Malham, who serves as the club's adviser, called the group's mission an important one.

"Active members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces don't often receive the gratitude they deserve," she said. "This club strives to remind MHS students that we get to enjoy the life we have here because of the sacrifices so many have made."

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More than 20 students attended the club's first meeting Thursday. They prepared more than 120 holiday cards for veterans at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago.

Among the projects Pawlowski hopes to undertake is a book compiling veterans' stories about their time in the service. He especially wants to hear from older veterans "while they are still able to tell about their military experiences."

He sees it as a "historical document" that would be available in print and digitally.

Sending care packages to troops overseas already is something Pawlowski has done as an Eagle Scout project.

"We take for granted Dove soap at home, but overseas the troops don't get that," he said. "It reminds them of home and gets them into a positive mindset."

Malham said she's excited about the projects being planned.

"I think they are a great opportunity for MHS students to be involved in something that has an impact," she said. "Even a seemly small task, like writing a holiday card to veterans, can have a significant impact."

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