BROOKSVILLE -- Several Taylor Elementary School students have learned an important lesson in giving to those in need just in time for the holidays.
Heather Brumley, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, recently took six students to the Thomson Hood Veterans Home in Wilmore, where the students spent a meaningful afternoon of donating gifts and listening to stories from the veterans living in the facility.
Before visiting the home, the students raised money to donate, a project the fifth-grade class undertakes each year.
According to Brumley, the first year they donated to the Cincinnati Veteran's Hospital; the second year, they donated to a hospital in Lexington and returned to the Cincinnati Veteran's Hospital last year.
"This year, I was driving through Ohio and I remembered there was a rest home in Georgetown for veterans," she said. "It made me wonder if there was one in Kentucky. After some research, I found the Thomson Hood Veteran's Center in Wilmore."
Brumley said she discussed the donations with her kids and they decided that was where they wanted to send their money this year.
According to Brumley, she only collects monetary donations, because it is easier to allow the veterans to purchase the items they need rather than carry several things to the home.
"The donations are used to take veterans on outings in the summer, they'll use it to purchase items for the garden, because a lot of veterans at the home will spend their time working there."
One student, Caleb Emory, 11, said he heard stories from a veteran who was stationed at the beaches of Normandy.
"He was on the Omaha beach in Normandy," Emory said. "We were so happy to be able to go to the veteran's home. We were doing a good thing. Those men and women did a lot of good things for us and we needed to give back."
According to Brumley, the students also met a former Army nurse.
"The students met a World War II Army nurse who served in Germany," Brumley said. "It was so humbling to hear their stories. It brought tears to my eyes. The veteran who was on the beaches -- he kept talking about God being there and helping him off the beach. It was such an amazing opportunity to hear their stories."
Some of the other students present on the trip also shared their experiences about visiting the home.
Paityn Bess, 10, said she was happy to have been able to visit.
"I felt happy while I was there," she said. "We were doing the right thing, but I was kind of nervous at the same time."
Anna Bond, 10, said she was also nervous about the visit.
"I was nervous, but I was really happy," she said. "All those people did great things. It felt good to give back to them."
Matalye Cummins, 10, placed a donation can at a family business to help raise money for the veteran's home.
"I felt very excited," she said. "Before we went, I had a paint can to collect money for the home. It felt good to help and to see how everyone there was doing."
One student, Ashlynne Leist, 10, had a unique story to tell about her visit.
Leist's younger sister, who was not a part of the fifth-grade class, sent a letter to Brumley asking if Leist could go with the students to visit the home because it would mean so much to them.
"She donated her own money and asked if (Leist) could go," Brumley said. "We chose the students based on a lottery -- all those who donated had their name put into a drawing, but it just so happened that (Leist's) name was drawn and she was able to go."
Leist said she has no regrets.
"Some of the people there don't get visitors," she said. "I was really excited to get to talk to them and thank them for what they've done."