Gearing up for Veterans Day Events across Alachua County

Gainesville, FL. (WCJB) -- In Alachua County, there are multiple different ways for you to honor veterans on Monday.

Here's how one of those events is not only teaching local kids why the holiday exists but also has an opportunity for you to help make the Christmas of soldiers across the globe just a little bit more cheerful.

The city of Gainesville is throwing a full-fledged Veterans Day event at the Evergreen Cemetery where more than 1000 veterans have been laid to rest.

Karen Pruss is the Coordinator for Evergreen Cemetery, she said: " it's remembering people, it's a remembrance ceremony but its also to pay respects to all of our veterans and recognize them all."

Alachua County students in after school programs helped start off the event by participating in a "search and honor" activity which had them searching the cemetery for veterans graves and planting flags at their bases.

Mary Harker is the program coordinator for Gainesville's Education Recreation division and she explained,
"some of those kids don't understand what Veterans Day is. We wanted to make sure they have a clear understanding of what it is and why they have the holiday off."

Ronna Jackson is a Director for the Military Support Group of Alachua County as well as a veterans advocate. She said, "it's not always taught in school and not always taught at home, not all families are from a military background. So it's very important that our children learn first-hand that veterans are the stars of our freedom and we owe everything to them."

Those same students have been learning about the importance of veterans for weeks and have written cards to be put into care-packages which will go to currently deployed soldiers.

Harker explained what kinds of messages the kids wrote. "They're heartfelt messages like we love you, thank you for keeping our country safe just things like that. It's heartfelt and we want to take their feelings and ship it overseas with all these items, food and cosmetic items we've collected for the soldiers."

Jackson who helps put the care packages together added, "the little homemade cards and stuff like that really do mean a lot not only to our heroes but to the families that are left behind because not all families can afford to send their hero a care-package."

You can also help fill the care-packages by bringing treats or small books and games to the Evergreen Cemetery event, everything donated will be boxed up and sent overseas by the non-profit Military Support Group of Alachua County.

Other Veterans Day events in Alachua County include breakfast at the Martin Luther King Center at 8:30 AM, another memorial event at Alachua County Veterans Memorial Park at 9 AM and finally a veterans day concert at the Performing Art Center at 7 PM.