Community makes valentines for ‘Hometown Heroes’

Julian Ybarra, a third grader attending Valencia Valley Elementary school, works on creating Valentine's Day Cards for active duty soldiers at a "Hearts for Heroes" event hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military at American Legion Post 504 Saturday morning. February 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

To appreciate the “Hometown Heroes” in Santa Clarita, Prayer Angels for the Military hosted their 16th annual Hearts for Heroes program Saturday afternoon, where children and their families made valentines for deployed troops and first responders to thank them for their service. 

“It is for all the heroes,” said Suzon Gerstel, president of Prayer Angels for the Military. “We have a lot of heroes around Santa Clarita.” 

Local firefighters, paramedics, veterans and sheriff’s deputies will also be given valentines for their past and current service in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

Valentines made by a preschool class prior to the event. Bobby Block/ The Signal

“We ship every month, but on the holidays we try to make a special effort to decorate the boxes,” said Gerstel. “It is more fun to have a package that somebody clearly took the time to make.” 

At the program, children had a wide variety of stickers and art supplies to choose from when designing their valentine. Children were seen making multiple valentines, as they tested out different supplies and stickers. 

“This is a good opportunity because (my children’s) father did a couple of tours,” said Rosa Mora, a mother who attended the event. “We are here to support my daughter.” 

Julian Ybarra, a third grader attending Valencia Valley Elementary school, works on creating Valentine’s Day Cards for active duty soldiers at a “Hearts for Heroes” event hosted by Prayer Angels for the Military at American Legion Post 504 Saturday morning. February 08, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Mora’s daughter, Alicia Ybarra, initially attended the event to receive honor society hours at her chapter at Placerita Junior High. Having a father who served, Ybarra felt the need to make as many valentines as she could, wishing them a safe trip home. 

“I think this is a good opportunity for me to give back,” said Ybarra. 

Along with those who have family members who served in the past, other families who attended had family members who were currently serving overseas. The crafts table became home to conversations as families shared stories of their loved ones.

Prayer Angels for the Military is a nonprofit military support group that reaches out to as many deployed service members as they can to ensure that no one is forgotten at mail call, according to the Prayer Angels for the Military website.

“Children do the most,” said Gerstel. “They have the biggest hearts.”

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