The volunteers of RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), along with representatives of Compass Community Health, worked with a class of young Portsmouth West Senators on Tuesday afternoon, preparing gifts of food for 65 area veterans. According to RSVP, the day of service went over well, not only helping those who have served, but also playing a role in planting seeds of respect for veterans in the students.
RSVP volunteers will be delivering the packages of food to the veterans on Wednesday, in honor of Veterans Day.
The food drive wasn’t a new campaign for RSVP this year. The event started last year, serving 50 veterans. Last year’s drive was also earlier in the fall, benefiting local veterans on September 11.
RSVP is under the direction of Coordinator Libby Brisker, who is heavily involved in the community and the lives of her grandchildren. Brisker said RSVP moved the food drive in order to raise more food and make a larger impact come Veterans Day. She also said it allowed them more time to work with the kids, which is a passion she shares with many of the volunteers.
“Last year was amazing,” Brisker said. “It went over so well, and our veterans were so appreciative, that we knew we had to make it an annual food drive. We appreciate our veterans. We want them to know that we are grateful for their service and all that they’ve done for their country. We don’t want them to feel forgotten.”
Brisker said the food raised by West Portsmouth Elementary School is being split between the 65 veterans. Compass Community Health has donated bags for all of the items and RSVP has purchased peanut butter. Kroger also got involved, donating fresh produce.
Brisker explained that another aspect to the collection is the education the students receive.
“An important part of this project is that we get the opportunity to teach these children what it feels like to give back,” Brisker said. “It is very important for them to also understand the sacrifice veterans make. The country we live in is wonderful, and that is because of the service these veterans have given us.”
RSVP volunteers spent time working with the children, showing them photos of some of the veterans they are helping and teaching them why it is important to serve their fellow man. The students have also been guided in a project where they have written handwritten letters, giving thanks to the veterans receiving the bags of food.
“We want them to have a special place in their hearts for the veterans, like we do,” Brisker said. “We just love going out there on these special days and meeting those brave people who have served our country. The best part of the whole thing is getting to meet these people and thank them face-to-face.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.