Liberty High School junior spearheads letter campaign for soldiers overseas

January 3, 2012

By Tom Corrigan

Liberty High School student Stacey Hurwitz poses with a few of the letters she gathered to send to members of the United States military stationed overseas. Contributed

Liberty High School junior Stacey Hurwitz, 16, has no relatives serving in the military.

Still, she noticed some things regarding United States soldiers that bothered her. She saw news stories about high unemployment rates among former soldiers. She read a story about high suicide rates among military personnel over the holidays. In the end, she wanted to do something about what she saw and heard.

“I decided I could probably do something to help them,” Stacey said, adding she became determined to do something more personal than donate money.

“She’s a humble girl but she’s definitely a go-getter,” mom Barbra Hurwitz said.

Eventually, Stacey hit on the idea of gathering letters for troops overseas. In the end, she sent about 400 missives to soldiers stationed in a rural area of Afghanistan. The letters were delivered — or will be — by a national organization known as Operation Stars and Stripes. As of mid-December, the letters were still in transit, but judging from the rough timeline Stacey Hurwitz gave, they should have reached U.S. troops just before or just after Christmas.

In gathering up her letters, Stacey’s first step was to get hold of various email lists belonging to friends and family, Barbra said. Because the family is an East Coast transplant, letters came from as far away as New York, Rhode Island and Florida.

“It spread out across the country,” Barbra said of her daughter’s efforts.

Actually, the effort went international when a letter was supplied by someone in Germany.

Stacey also approached the Liberty Associated Student Body, for which she serves as communications director. She further went to the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“Everyone was really supportive,” Stacey said. “People wrote about how much the soldiers mean to them … that they are heroes.”

Stacey herself wrote five of what she called “pretty long” letters. She said she thanked the soldiers for their service, and for protecting freedom, and she wished them all a safe homecoming.

Besides the ASB, probably predictably, Stacey is involved in plenty of other volunteer efforts. She does work at Newcastle Elementary School, where she went to school as a youngster and Barbra talked about her daughter helping coach a soccer league for the developmentally challenged.

Barbra couldn’t remember exactly which birthday, but when Stacey was turning 11 or 12, she asked that her family donate to a local animal shelter instead of buying presents for her. Barbra added that Stacey came up with the letter campaign entirely on her own, that it wasn’t connected to any sort of school activity.

“This was kind of a new category I wanted to try and I felt it was important,” Stacey said.

“She had a nice vision and she carried it through,” Barbra said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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