METUCHEN — The words on the cards say it all.
“We thank you for your service and bravery,” Joseph, a student at Edgar Middle School in Metuchen, wrote. “If not for you, freedom and safety may not exist. Therefore, you are a true hero and will always be.”
Joseph signed his card, “From your biggest fan.”
These words were written on dozens of cards and letters for Lucas Dalfonsi, a member of the 117th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Unit for the New Jersey Army National Guard based in Woodbridge, his 10-member unit and other soldiers overseas.
Dalfonsi, 25, who grew up in Metuchen and is a 2011 Metuchen High School graduate, and his unit were deployed to the Middle East for a year on Feb. 4.
He and his wife, Samantha, a teacher at Campbell Elementary School, have a young son, Austin.
Dalfonsi’s mom Tracey, a paraprofessional at Edgar Middle School, said the letter writing started at the end of April.
“Lucas reached out to me and asked if I could get a few kids to write some cards and send them over to help with the morale of the soldiers at his base,” she said. “I asked three teachers if we could do it one day in class. One of them brought it to the attention of Principal [Kevin] McPeek.”
McPeek took on the endeavor and the card writing campaign became a school-wide effort.
Seventh-grader Nicole Delacruz said when she heard about writing letters to the soldiers, she thought it was a great idea to help bring some cheer.
“I met [Dalfonsi] many times and he’s really nice,” she said. “I told them to be strong, believe in themselves and stay positive … all positive things.”
Seventh-grader Zoey Brown said the letters were a good way to show their support for the sacrifices the soldiers were making for them and their country.
“Not everyone makes such a sacrifice,” she said.
Nicky Armeli, a seventh grader, said he wrote, “Thank you for your service” in his card. He said the thought of the soldiers reading the letters means a lot to him.
Marcus Malamug, also a seventh grader, said the thought of Edgar Middle School coming together to write letters to boost morale of the soldiers all the way in the Middle East is amazing.
“We come from such a small town,” he said.
Tracey Dalfonsi collected all the letters and sent the cards out on May 4.
“Lucas said all the cards are gathered and put in an area where everyone can go and look at them … not just his unit,” she said.
Tracey texted a photo of all the letters and cards spread out of a table to her son.
“Wow, holy cow, mom. That’s a lot of letters,” he responded.
Dalfonsi said he is proud to be from Metuchen because of efforts like the one shown through the letter/card writing.
“I sent a simple text to my mom and it turned into this,” he said. “I am really looking forward to receiving those letters and cards and reading every one of them.”
Dalfonsi said he is most excited about being able to share the letters and cards not only with his small unit, but with all the soldiers at his base.
“It really does make us all feel proud to serve for our country,” he said. “Thank you to all the teachers and students for the time and effort they put into making us feel special.”
Contact Kathy Chang at email@example.com.