RANCHO SANTA FE — Students at R. Roger Rowe School are giving back to San Diego veterans by funding veterans’ Honor Flight San Diego trips. The program allows veterans to go on a three-day trip to Washington D.C. to recognize their contributions to this country and visit the memorials dedicated to their service.
It all started with Sloan Harris, a fifth-grader at R. Roger Rowe School, who raised $5,000 to send two World War II or Korean War veterans on an Honor Flight San Diego experience.
A few months ago, Harris, 10, and her classmates were asked to make birthday cards for Bob Brown, a 104-year-old World War II veteran going on the 2021 Honor Flight San Diego trip.
Stacey Halboth, a literacy teacher at Rowe and team leader for Honor Flight San Diego, told the students about the program and how veterans rely on fundraising to be able to go on these trips. She also invited students to the hero’s welcome at the airport in October.
“One of the teachers at our school said that if we wanted we could go to the Honor Flight and I did, and it was so inspiring to see all those veterans, and I told my parents that I want to do that and get involved, so that just made me want to help veterans,” Harris said.
Each trip costs $2,500 per veteran, so to raise the money, Harris made a video that she shared with her family and friends and ended up raising $5,000 to send two veterans on the flight, which is tentatively scheduled for April 2022.
Other students have also risen to the challenge after being inspired by the program and the veterans in their communities. Seventh Jake Hauenstein and his third-grade sister Ivy also decided to get involved in honor of Giving Tuesday last month.
Jake and Ivy sat in front of the Rancho Santa Fe post office to find veterans, or friends and family of veterans, to apply for the Honor Flight San Diego program, and those who felt inclined could also donate to the cause. George Sousa, a 91-year-old Korean War veteran accompanied them.
In the end, they were able to raise enough funds to send one veteran on the next Honor Flight.
“You don’t know what’s going to inspire somebody or what inspires a student to continue to say yes to something, you just never know, and so to have both of these groups of kids wanting to do something and then on top of that, I also have a few other students that are wanting to get involved, it’s inspiring,” Halboth said.
To donate to the program, visit honorflightsandiego.org.