On Monday, November 14, 2016, middle schoolers from nonprofit Maui Youth & Family Services (MYFS) presented handmade paracord survival bracelets to Sergeant First Class Robert McDonnell at the Hawaii Army National Guard Armory in Kihei.
Kids who participated in the paracord bracelet project are part of Project Venture, one of MYFS’ Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Prevention Programs for youth in grades 6 through 8. Project Venture takes place after school and promotes positive youth development and empowerment through evidence-based, experiential learning. It incorporates outdoor adventures and challenges and actively engages youth in developing life-skills while reinforcing values such as family, community, service and appreciation for the natural world.
“Having our kids personally create and present these bracelets was a perfect way to celebrate Veteran’s Day,” said MYFS Counselor Savannah Aroyan, who coordinated the project. “They saw first-hand how fun and rewarding giving back to the community and helping others can be.” During the presentation, SFC McDonnell explained that the bracelets are immediately going to one of the Hawaii Army National Guard Aviation Units that is currently deployed overseas.
A youth who participated said she enjoyed the project “because it shows people who risk their lives every day that we care about them and we’re thankful for all that they do. It’s a small thing that makes a big impact.” SFC McDonnell also talked about how much care packages mean to American military members.
“When I was overseas and homesick, getting gifts like this truly meant the world to me and made me feel more connected with loved ones at home,” he said. “The fact that military members from our Maui community will directly benefit from these kids’ generosity is so touching and we are very grateful.”