December 1, 2017
The excitement was palpable at Lakeside Elementary School in East Grand Rapids as
students and faculty gathered Thursday afternoon, November 9, 2017 for a special program they
designed to honor Veterans. Students and their families with Veterans from all branches of the
United States Military joined together for refreshments, conversation and camaraderie as photos
and memories were exchanged. Several Veterans from K9 Camo Companions brought their dogs,
eliciting curiosity and delight from the students.
The program, which featured students singing and reading lines from the children’s book
“America’s White Table,” drew involuntary tears from many of the Veterans present. The story
of a table adorned in white with a rose next to a dinner placement for one who will never appear,
is a heartfelt and sober reminder of the countless service members who have fallen, or remain
missing or captive in the line of duty. The attention of everyone present was focused on the
children as they joyfully participated in this special event. Heads nodded in remembrance as the
program played out across the stage, and culminated in choruses of patriotic songs.
Molly Buxton, who serves as one of the service projects coordinators for Lakeside
Elementary, explained the importance of teaching the young to remember our Veterans with
respect for their service, and the necessity of giving back to community. In preparation for the
event the students read and discussed another book, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed, which
shows how small acts of kindness can multiply to make a difference in other peoples lives, and
inspires children to learn to do something new in service to others. During the event, Molly also
reminded students that while many Veterans have wounds that can be seen, sometimes they also
have invisible wounds, and kindness is an important element to help these wounds heal.
The “Coins for Kindness” outreach was introduced last year to spotlight how small acts
of kindness can multiply to reach others. The campaign places a mason jar in each classroom and
the students are encouraged to find creative ways to earn coins to fill the jar. Some of their ideas
include washing dishes, cleaning and doing chores around the house, raking leaves, and one
young entrepreneur suggested giving back rubs and massages. Past service events have seen
cookie and cocoa sales as well.
Coins for Kindness chose K9 Camo Companions as their beneficiary for both the 2016
and 2017 campaigns and K9CC is extremely grateful for their support. These funds will be used
for adoptions, training and supplies for each Veteran/animal placement.
K9 Camo Companions strives to help Veterans heal from their invisible wounds by
paring Veterans and rescue animals together. Research shows both the individual and the animal
benefit by bringing love and acceptance to each other, and provides calm and healing for both the
Veteran and the animal.
K9CC is a 501-3c organization and is staffed by volunteers committed to outreach.
by L G Nixon