The partnership between Walnut Street Elementary and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 200 continued this year as Barbara Tracey's 5th grade class at the school helped organize a food drive within their community.
It all started about 30 years ago when Danny Bogota, now a veteran himself, was a student at Walnut Street Elementary and his father, Ron Bogota, a member of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 200, partnered with the school on a food drive.
Now, Danny and other veterans have been accompanying Bogota each year to Walnut Street to collect the food and help distribute it to needy veterans and families throughout Ocean County. Bogota estimates that they feed about 350 families each year.
"This is a heartwarming and wonderful tradition that I would like to continue as long as possible," said Ron Bogota. "It is great to see the students giving back to the community in which they live and helping people who are a lot less fortunate than many of us."
Board members Dan Leonard, Russell Corby, Joe Nardini and Superintendent David Healy were all on hand to help Ms. Tracey's 5th graders load the collected food onto the truck.
Principal Richard Fastnacht told his students, "We thank you for your hard work. As educators, it brings us joy to see you give back to your community. We hope you take this experience and apply it elsewhere in your lives."
As tokens of appreciation, Principal Fastnacht presented Ron Bogota with Walnut Street spirit wear and Mr. Bogota presented Principal Fastnacht with a certificate to display in the school.