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Dublin’s Elementary School Students Send Holiday Greetings to U.S. Troops Around the Globe

December 8, 2012

Frederiksen Elementary School Student Holiday Cards to US Troops - 2Thanks to the initiative of Frederiksen Elementary School teacher Brenda Gundell, and elementary school students from across Dublin, over 200 men and women service in our military around the world will be receiving handmade thank you cards that celebrate the holiday season. The end of year holiday season is a time for reflection. In conjunction with Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us are contemplating our blessings for the past year. Rather than look at our own lives, we must also all take a moment of pause to offer our gratitude and prayers for the thousands of servicemen and servicewomen sprinkled throughout the world. These brave souls help preserve the freedoms that we all enjoy as a country.

The City of Dublin is somewhat unique in that we have Camp Parks – a Reserve Forces Training Area (RFTA) located in the middle of our community. Multiple branches of the armed forces train and reside at Parks and hundreds of military family students attend our schools.

In November, OneDublin.org published a profile on the annual Veterans’ Day Assembly presented at Frederiksen Elementary School. This annual event includes all first through fifth graders and doesn’t end in November – there is a follow-up activity that started quietly and has steadily grown. A “Holiday Cards for our Troops” program was the primary motivator and we wanted to speak to its leader. OneDublin.org recently had the opportunity to sit down with Frederiksen first grade teacher, Brenda Gundell to learn more.

Ms. Gundell attained her B.A. in Liberal Studies and Teaching Credential in Multiple Subjects from Cal State University East Bay in Liberal Studies. Ultimately, she also earned an M.A. in Teaching Leadership from St. Mary’s College. She has taught professionally for a total of ten years – the last nine years at Frederiksen Elementary School.

OneDublin.org: You’ve led a holiday letter writing effort for years. How did this all start?

Frederiksen Elementary School Teacher Brenda Gundell

Brenda Gundell: “I had simply seen an article in the local paper about this subject. Specifically, it was announced by the office of Congressman Jerry McNerney. The idea was to contribute as many cards as possible. These greetings would then be distributed to troops both at home and abroad.”

OneDublin.org: Where did you deliver these letters and what was the reception?

Gundell: “Congressman McNerney has an office adjacent to Stoneridge Mall. I dropped them off on Thursday. My delivery was warmly received and the staff was very gracious.”

OneDublin.org: With the thousands of cards that are collected each year, who is actually receiving them?

Gundell: “Not only are the cards delivered to troops abroad, they are also shared with our veterans living in the U.S. This includes those currently residing at Bay Area VA hospitals, Camp Parks, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.”

OneDublin.org: You decided to open up the project to all elementary schools within the district this year. How did you go about that?

Gundell: “First, I introduced the idea to Principal Holly Scroggins and she was very supportive. She then forwarded along the invitation to the other site leaders. I’m happy to report that were able to deliver over 200 holiday cards to Congressman McNerney’s office.”

OneDublin.org: As we conclude, we are reminded that you are teaching first graders. How have you been able to convey the importance of what your students are doing? 

Frederiksen Elementary School Classroom

Gundell: “Yes, they are six-year olds. Their current universe is small – it’s based in their homes, with their parents and with school. To bring this experience home, I pulled down the world map. I pointed to where their letters were being delivered from Dublin, CA to continents and countries around the globe. At that moment, they began to understand that their small act of kindness might be incredibly meaningful to someone that is working thousands of miles away from their families. It is even more meaningful as we are entering into the holiday season. It has also opened their eyes and minds that there are other six-year olds across the globe that go to school every day and might lose a tooth from time to time – just like them.”

OneDublin.org salutes certificated members like Brenda Gundell that help our students understand it’s truly a small world after all. And that all service people – past and present should be recognized for their service to our country. We wish both you and your families peace during this holiday season.

Frederiksen Elementary School Student Holiday Cards to US Troops - 1

Frederiksen Elementary School Holiday Cheer

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