DHS students plan event for veterans

Model UN co-chairs Peyton Hile, left, who also is the JROTC batallion commander, and DJ Barnette, who is a Vikings football player, display a poster promoting their Salute to Veterans event Friday, Sept. 6, in conjunction with the Vikings football home game against Urbana.

DANVILLE – All veterans are invited to a special evening next week that will include dinner and a football game at Danville High School.

The students in JROTC and Model UN have joined forces to organize a Salute to Veterans event Friday, Sept. 6, at the DHS fieldhouse and Ned Whitesell Field.

“We want any veteran to come,” said DHS math teacher Lori Woods, who is the Model UN adviser.

DHS senior DJ Barnette, who co-chairs Model UN with Peyton Hile, said, “This event involves the whole community instead of just the high school. We’re trying to get all veterans to come, not just the veterans at the (local) VA.”

The evening will kick off with a taco and salad potluck dinner, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the fieldhouse. The dinner will run until 6:40 p.m., and veterans will eat for free.

“We’re providing a taco and salad bar with all the toppings,” said DHS junior Peyton Hile, who is the JROTC battalion commander.

“The pompettes and cheerleaders will sit and visit and have dinner with the veterans,” Woods said.

Guests also will have the opportunity to bid on silent auction items in the fieldhouse and enter a 50/50 raffle. Some of the silent auction items will include restaurant gift cards, handbags and candles. Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 each or $5 for six chances. The raffle winner will receive half of the money, while the other half will go toward sponsoring a veteran on an Honor Flight.

Veterans will be admitted free to Whitesell Field to watch the Vikings football team take on Urbana starting at 7 p.m. Others attending the game that night will be encouraged to bring a toiletry item – soap, shampoo, deodorant or toothpaste -- to drop off in boxes that will be lined up as they enter Whitesell Field. The toiletry items will be distributed to local at-risk veterans.

“They may bring a canned good if they’d like as long as it’s nonperishable,” Woods said.

“We also will have a clothing drive for gloves, socks and basic things,” Peyton said.

“During halftime, the band will play a patriotic song as a tribute to the veterans,” Peyton added.

After the game, guests are invited to return to the fieldhouse to view and vote on the best student-designed shelters that pay tribute to veterans with encouraging words and patriotic themes.

Starting at 9 p.m., DHS students who have pledged $20 will participate in a sleep-out for veterans’ support in the fieldhouse until 5 a.m. Saturday.

“Students can make a personal shelter or a team can make a big hut,” Peyton said.

“Parents are donating snacks, and there will be games,” she said. “It will be like a big DHS slumber party.”

All the money raised during the event will go toward sponsoring a veteran or two on an Honor Flight scheduled for May 2020 as well as other outreach projects. JROTC and Model UN need to collect at least $1,350 to sponsor two veterans.

“We’re trying to send two veterans on an Honor Flight,” DJ said.

The event also marks the renewal of DHS’ Model UN extracurricular activity that had been dormant for a while.

“We’re trying to rebuild it and decided to kick it off with this event,” Woods said.

“We’re learning about global issues and nations and what their positions are,” she said of the Model UN group. “We’re focusing on our nation and what the needs are here, so we came up with veterans’ issues.

“We’re helping raise resources for veterans because we see more veterans in Danville than others might see elsewhere,” Woods said.

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