Seniors gather on MLK Day of Service to craft valentines for retired service members

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Barbra and Gilbert Bynoe of St. Helens craft valentine cards together Monday, Jan. 15, during the Valentines for Vets service project at the Scappoose Senior Center. The annual service project is put on by the Columbia County RSVP, gathering senior volunteers to make cards that will be distributed to veterans before Valentines Day. Valentine's Day is nearly a month away, but on a Monday afternoon, the Scappoose Senior Center is abuzz with volunteers pasting glittery hearts and stickers onto cards.

Each year, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, more than a dozen volunteers from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program join together at the senior center to hand-make valentine cards that will be distributed to veterans throughout Columbia County and beyond.

Handwritten messages on the cards let those who served the country know that someone is thinking of them.

The Valentines for Vets program has become an annual tradition for Columbid County RSVP on what is recognized as a national Day of service.

For Betty Stuber, the service project marked a perfect time to introduce her grandchildren to the rewards of volunteering.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Sharon Evinger of Scappoose uses paper hearts to make valentine cards that will be given to veterans as a way to show appreciation for their service. Evinger is a volunteer with Columbia County RSVP.

"They're out of school today, so I encouraged them to come," Stuber said, looking down at a quarter-sheet-size card with an American flag. Stuber said she joined RSVP last year.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Betty Stuber (far right) shows off a card her granddaughter made during the Valentines for Vets service project day in Scappoose. To her left, Naomi Stuber, 8, (middle) and Kenzie Stuber, 13, put the finishing touches on more cards.Monica Cade, executive director of RSVP, coordinates the service project each year.

"We're going to be delivering valentines to as many veterans throughout the county as we can," Cade noted. "We go to assisted living facilities, service clubs. We have over 6,000 vets in our county, but it's not always easy to find them."

Cade said, typically, the distribution stops reach veterans from several generations, who fought in wars spanning World War II to the Iraq War. Any leftover cards that aren't distributed are typically taken to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Vancouver, Wash.

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