PCM students honor veterans


Chris VerHeul

Coasters sit in piles after being engraved by the laser.

Around December, PCM High School woodshop students work together to make items for charity. Past projects include pens and flag boxes. This year’s project, coasters, will go to the veterans in Jasper county retirement homes. Overseeing this is high school shop teacher Tim Crowder. 

“I think it is nice for the kids to do something for other people. It is something that the kids really enjoy because they have friends and family that have joined the military, so it gives them the chance to give something back and show their appreciation,” Crowder said. 

Every veteran will get two coasters; each coaster will have all of the branches of service on it. A majority of the material was donated to the school by Liberty Hardwoods out of Ankeny, which is a plywood and lumber distributor in the midwest. 

Many of the students at PCM who are helping make coasters have connections within the military. Some students have friends or family who served, or they are planning to serve themselves 

“They mean a lot to me. My grandfather served and so did my stepfather. They’ve done more than anyone can say they’ve done,” freshman Evan VanDonselaar said. 

High school students helped sand, clear-coat and polish the coasters. The design was made by Crowder and burned into the wood with a laser cutter. A lot of time went into making the coasters.

“I helped sand. I wanted to help because the veterans have done so much for everyone,” junior Reese Giles said. 

Plenty of PCM graduates have entered the military, and even more know people who are veterans. Crowder has even had students he taught join the military, but the connection between him and armed forces runs deeper. 

“My grandfather fought in WWII; my father in law and grandfather in law were both in the military. I even tried to be, but I blew out my knee after I signed up. I also have a lot of friends who are military. I wasn’t able to go so it’s nice to be able to do something to help,” Crowder said. 

Christmas is a particularly hard time for those in retirement homes. Some do not have any family left to visit them. One of the purposes of the project is to show that the veterans have not been forgotten for what they have done.

“We are planning to do it every year around Christmas time. Last year we did something for every member of the legion in Monroe. It’s nice around Christmastime to let the veterans know they’re appreciated and that we are thinking of them,” Crowder said. 

This December, make sure to give a little time to visit with veterans and thank them for their service. They should never be forgotten, even in the winter of their lives. For every veteran and those serving, PCM students have one message: thank you for your service.