After meeting veterans at Washington, D.C., monuments, Grizzell Middle School eighth-graders decided to do something special for those who have served their country.
As a service project, the eighth-grade class will work to raise $15,000 by Memorial Day to sponsor a bus for an Honor Flight visit to Washington D.C.
"We decided as the eighth grade we wanted to do a service project," said Shawn Kaeser, a Grizzell social studies teacher.
The eighth-graders visited Washington recently and Kaeser said students were encouraged to talk to veterans they saw at the monuments they visited.
"We encouraged them to say 'Thank you,' " he said.
"It seemed like a perfect fit and they took it from there."
Last week veterans that volunteer for Honor Flight Columbus visited the school to talk to students about the program for which the students are raising funds.
President James Downing told students about the day that starts at 5:30 a.m. when veterans board a plane at Port Columbus International Airport and head to Washington for a day of visiting monuments.
"It's so important if you see someone with a veteran's hat on, if you want to see a smile, walk up and thank them," Downing told students.
"You'll have a friend for life."
Since Honor Flight Columbus started in 2006, about 3,300 veterans from central Ohio have visited Washington, said board member Roger Dyer.
Honor flights cost about $50,000 and a $15,000 donation will fund one of three buses used to transport veterans throughout the city.
Some students were already familiar with the program because of grandparents.
Savannah Heinlen volunteered to be one of 13 ambassadors in charge of the project after seeing family go on an Honor Flight.
"My other grandpa died last year," the eighth-grader said.
"So, this is really close to my heart to be in the project."
Catie Harty also has a grandfather who served in World War II.
After meeting several veterans during the Washington class trip, she decided to get involved as an ambassador.
"We met veterans on the D.C. trip and it meant so much to them," Harty said, adding one veteran sent a thank you letter to Dublin City Schools after running into two groups of middle school students from Dublin.
The fundraising started on Veterans Day and students met several times last week to develop different ways to collect money.
"It's very stressful," Heinlen said. "We had three meetings in the last few days."
So far, students have planned bake sales, penny wars and individual fundraising as well as advertising campaigns, Harty said.
"We have some school dances coming up," she said. "We'll do bake sales at them."
Kaeser said local businesses can also donate to Grizzell's Honor Flight fundraiser and receipts will be made available for tax deductions.
"Our goal is to technically be done by Memorial Day," he said.
"We're hoping to sponsor the May flight."
Kaeser, however, said he is anticipating students to reach the goal long before May.
"I don't think we'll have anything to worry about," he said. "I think all these kids have big hearts."
Donations to Grizzell's Honor Flight fundraiser can be made by sending a check made out to Grizzell Middle School with Honor Flight in the memo.