by Nora Lowe
The Students Serving Soldiers Club is led by Byram Hills’ seniors Camille Carthy and Carla Gemelli. The teacher advisor is Mr. Gulick. The club was started by Terence Carthy in June of 2010. Bake Sales are only one of the numerous methods students in the Students Serving Soldiers Club use to strive to support soldiers and veterans. Other methods include collecting helpful supplies, volunteering at various events supporting veterans, and visiting wounded soldiers.
Through these means, the students and leaders of the Students Serving Soldiers Club hope to raise awareness so that more people acknowledge the sacrifices those in service make. The club creates and sends supportive care packages and letters to areas that have been influenced by the war to bring the soldiers comfort during their deployment. Camille shares that “every year Students Serving Soldiers collects items as well as donations such as granola bars, mac and cheese, books, and socks for [an] annual care package drive.” The care package drive is the club’s primary event, shipping “over 200 care packages to men and women overseas.” Another much-loved tradition is going to an annual veterans’ BBQ at Rye Playland, and serving refreshments to the veterans.
Mr. Gulick recalls that in years past, the students have cheered on WWII Veterans at the airport as they boarded planes to fly to Washington D.C. THe club also aims to raise funds to aid in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. The club members venture to raise money and awareness in hopes of supporting the loved ones of the fallen men and women through their collaborations with organizations such as OSOT: Operation Support our Troops, Operation Gratitude, and the Westchester County Department of Veteran Affairs.
Students join the Students Serving Soldiers Club for various reasons. Some simply take advantage of the opportunity to express their gratitude. Others, such as freshman member, Gaby Colabello, have a more personal connection. She explains her motive for joining and shares, “I have a military family. My grandpa, my grandma’s brothers, and my other grandpa all served.” Some students have a relationship with either current members of the army, or veterans, who are perhaps family members. These ties deepen their connection with the club because they have a method in which to express their appreciation in a way that words sometimes fail to describe. Gaby further explains, “I just wanted to show my appreciation because they mean so much to me.” Joining and participating in the Students Serving Soldiers Club is an excellent way to demonstrate one’s gratefulness for their country, and their appreciation for its courageous protectors. Byram Hills sophomore and active club member, Sydney Dooley attests that “by doing something so little feels so empowering, because [she] know that [her] work is helping those who risk their lives for our country.”
So far this year, the members have redecorated the Students Serving Soldiers Club Board in patriotic colors, which is iconic, and will help to draw new members. The board is located outside Ms. Montalbano’s room in the 200’s hallway. The club has also held an impressive bake sale at the Armonk Art show and raised a total of 1,280 dollars! The funds will go to the care package drive and towards making donations to various veteran affiliated organizations.
Camille shares that “through [her] membership and leadership in the club, [she is] helping others—whether it be sending care packages or a simple thank you to a veteran— [she] can do a small part in thanking the men and women who serve our country. And it’s fun too!”
If you are interested in joining, contact either Mr. Gulick, Camille, or Carla. Byram Hills high school junior and club member, Jesse Schmalholz, has a similar perspective. When asked what the Students Serving Soldiers Club meant to him, he replied, “I’m really proud to be part of Students Serving Soldiers. It’s been great knowing that I can impact the lives of the people protecting our country, even if it’s in a small way, it makes a big difference.” Mr. Gulick concurs and believes that “the kids get to see that they can make a difference…[allowing them to] be able to reach out and help people.”