By Jack McSherry
In 2008, a group of Bronxville high school students started Hearts to Home with the goal of helping American service men and women to stay in touch with their families by sending them prepaid telephone calling cards. Recently, Hearts to Home expanded its work to support local military families and members of the military returning from active duty.
Hearts to Home put on three great events this spring to show its support to United States service men and women and their families. In early April, Hearts to Home partnered with SoulCycle of Bronxville to host a charity ride for members of the community, and student volunteers also spearheaded a phone-a-thon at the Bronxville School. Thanks to the success of both events, Hearts to Home raised over $5,000 to purchase 50 bikes and helmets for a Build-a-Bike event that was held at the end of April.
“We rode for all the men and women who sacrifice so much for our safety and freedom. Helping local military families is close to my heart as my brother, Brian Higgins, served in Iraq and Afghanistan for an extended period of time. During this difficult time for my family, the students and families of the Bronxville School were tremendously supportive,” said Christine Dowd, an elementary special education teacher at the Bronxville School and one of the leaders of the Hearts to Home club. With SoulCycle’s wide popularity in town, word about the event spread quickly. “We cannot thank SoulCycle enough for creating such a positive space for us to gather and honor our local military heroes. Through this partnership, Hearts to Home had the most profitable charity ride yet,” said Dowd.
Members of the USO also were in attendance to show their support. After riding in the cycling event, Maureen Cummins, of the USO said, “What an awesome event. It’s wonderful to see the Bronxville community come together to support military families. This event truly recognizes that the whole family serves and sacrifices. Military kids are remarkable. They change schools around seven times over the course of their parent’s military career. Many children deal with parents who deploy for long periods, missing huge milestones in their child’s life. I’ve witnessed the smiles these bikes bring to military kids around the country and there’s nothing quite like it.”
On Wednesday, April 5, students gathered at the Bronxville School to put on a Hearts to Home phone-a-thon to raise funds for the Build-a Bike. A dozen students made calls to the community. “The response was great,” said High School student Charlie Gay. “People were really enthusiastic about supporting such a worthy cause.”
Hearts to Home then sponsored its Build-a-Bike at the Bronxville School on Saturday, April 22. Volunteers from the community came out to participate in the event, which was held at the Bronxville School. “The Build-a-Bike was another fun, hands-on, and really rewarding event. Spring is the perfect time of year to sponsor a Build-a-Bike with kids happy to be getting back outside and enjoying the warmer weather,” said Pam Kohlhoff, a third grade teacher at the Bronxville School and one of the leaders of the Hearts to Home club. “The best moment comes at the end of the event when the volunteers get to watch the bikes be picked up by the military families. It’s a great tradition!”