Time is of the essence at Lake High School.
With an estimated ten years until all World War II veterans are gone, the school started to raise money two years ago in an effort to send World War II veterans to see the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. free of cost.
The money raised goes to the Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio organization, which has sent over 300 veterans since their inception in 2007. People at Lake have raised over $4,400, which has allowed nine veterans to visit the memorial.
Although the school doesn’t know the names of the veterans they helped send, the veterans are told why they went and who raised money.
The effort initially began when Jim Witt, superintendent at Lake Local Schools, received a letter from a woman in Walbridge telling him about the Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio.
Word was passed around and eventually the student council began donating one dollar from every homecoming ticket, students had patriotic dress down days, and the school sent letters to members of the Lake community to begin fundraising efforts.
“The first year seemed to get the biggest response,” said Tammy Tapley, director of student activities at Lake. “Since then, it’s been primarily the efforts of student council.”
Two years ago, the cost to send a veteran to D.C. was $500. Since then, 22 individuals/families, the French Club, and Student Council at Lake have donated money. The current cost to send a veteran is $400.
People at the school didn’t know how well they were doing until they received a check from a lady in Northwood in memory of her father.
“That was kind of neat,” Tapley said. “It was the first time we felt our message was kind of getting out.”
Tapley said the effort is important for students because the generation gap is getting larger.
“My parents have memories of their parents effects,” she said. “I don’t. I’ve heard stories. The kids now are so removed. It’s important to do things to make kids realize the importance of what happened.”
Therefore, 25 students were able to interact with veterans on Oct. 14 at Toledo Express Airport prior to the most recent flight to D.C. In the past, students were not able to interact.
“The students had to be here at 7 a.m.,” Tapley said. “They did it and really got a lot more by having that personal contact. Learning in a book is great, but face to face makes the impact that reading can’t.”
The students also stood outside as the veterans boarded the plane one by one.
“As we were standing there, cold and shivering for maybe 15-20 minutes, it made the students think about the cold conditions the veterans had to endure in war,” Tapley said.
The students were not the only ones affected, according to Tapley.
“The students also wrote thank you letters and presented them to the veterans,” she said. “You could see the emotion in the eyes of the veterans. They were surprised, I think, to know young people cared about what they did for our country.”
The Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio is a branch of a national organization started in 2005. Over 25,000 World War II veterans nationwide have seen the memorial.
Lake H.S. is continuing to accept donations for the Honor Flight. Checks can be sent to the high school with attention to Tammy Tapley.
For more information on the Honor Flight, you can visit www.honorflightnwo.org.