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Green Grows the Gratitude for Campus Veterans

An assembly line preps stars to be fondly affixed to the Veterans Holiday Tree.
An assembly line preps stars to be fondly affixed to the Veterans Holiday Tree.
Regina M. Peluzzo, a civil engineering technology major from Philadelphia, hangs lights.
Regina M. Peluzzo, a civil engineering technology major from Philadelphia, hangs lights.
Personalized ribbons enhance the tree's meaning.
Personalized ribbons enhance the tree’s meaning.
Red, white and blue lights twinkle as Aaron S. Haefner, a second-shift horticulture technician from General Services, helps get to those hard-to-reach places.
Red, white and blue lights twinkle as Aaron S. Haefner, a second-shift horticulture technician from General Services, helps get to those hard-to-reach places.

About 25 Penn College students and employees decorated the Veterans Holiday Tree along the main campus entrance Thursday afternoon. A total of 407 star ornaments hang from the evergreen, representing 367 students with military service and 40 faculty/staff who identify themselves as veterans. Added this year (the second year for the seasonal salute) is a large, clear-glass ball containing more than 100 ribbons – in different colors to designate a service branch or first responder – that were purchased from the Veterans Club in last month’s “Giving Tree” fundraiser. People paid $1 or more to hang a ribbon on that tree in the name of a family member or loved one who served or is serving in the military, generating more than $250 for the Fisher House Foundation charity for veterans and their families. “From here forward, the named ribbons from each year’s ‘Giving Tree’ will be used to make an ornament for that year to be hung on the Veterans Holiday Tree,” said Chester M. Beaver, an Army veteran and the college’s veterans affairs coordinator. “They will be dated, as this year’s is. I hope that, in 20 years or so, we will have a tree full of ornaments to go along with each year’s stars.”
Photos by Caleb G. Schirmer, student photographer