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Stepping up for veterans

Goffstown students step up for veterans

GOFFSTOWN - The relationship between Liberty House of Manchester and Goffstown's Mountain View Middle School began four years ago as a school community service project, the brainchild of social studies teacher Mary Grassett.

It has since blossomed into an annual fundraiser that supports the rehabilitation of homeless veterans, many of whom suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

The school's Team 8-2 welcomed back Assistant Program Director Bill Zarakotas and resident Ron Tremblay on March 14 to discuss the mission of Liberty House. Zarakotas and Tremblay explained how and why soldiers returning from military service end up homeless, calling PTSD the biggest culprit. They also shared touching stories regarding their experiences with PTSD.

The most important role of Liberty House is to help returning service men and women live their lives without having PTSD overpower their every waking moment. The major success of the program is undoubtedly the fact that those burdened with PTSD have the ear of those that have "been there" and have learned to function with the disorder: other service personnel.

Zarakotas said a $1 contribution to its program converts into $20 of meals at the local food bank. For the past three years, the MVMS team has made an annual donation of about $400.

This year's team did a stellar job fundraising throughout February. Students asked pastors at churches to place donation buckets at Masses, reached out to family members who have served in the past and went around the school weekly to search for loose change, figuring that every penny counted. The 92 student team, taught by Karen St. Clair, Moss Burke, Josh Lewis, Matt Adams, Jean Toellner and Lisa Nelson, surprised their Liberty House guests with an $850 donation, enough to feed Liberty House residents for a year from the food pantry.

Donations can be sent to: Liberty House, 75 Baker St, Manchester 03106 in care of Bill Zarakotas.

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