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Connellsville Patriots raising money for Flight 93 Memorial

| Monday, Oct. 17, 2011

The CAHS Patriots Inc. continues its mission to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices armed forces members have made and continue to make for their country.

November marks an especially busy month for the group of more than 50 students and adult volunteers based at Connellsville Area High School.

With the new school year, the Patriots have taken on an additional cause, to run through Nov. 4.

The Patriots and supporters traveled to Shanksville by bus on Sept. 11 to observe the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America and to celebrate those on Flight 93 who gave up their lives to keep the terrorists from crashing the plane into an occupied target.

"We found out from the National Park Service that they still need $10 million to complete the Flight 93 Memorial, where 40 courageous, patriotic Americans came to the end of their lives to help others," said Linda Shearer, Connellsville Area High School English teacher and founder and secretary of the CAHS Patriots Inc.

The Patriots have begun a 93 cents for Flight 93 collection drive. "Everyone who donates 93 cents or more will receive a red, white and blue ribbon that reads, 'In memory of Flight 93, never forgotten,'" Shearer said.

Each school in the district has the ribbons for sale, as does Connellsville City Hall and some local businesses.

"After having the opportunity to visit there, this fell in line with our other programs. Our donation will leave a small footprint on hallowed ground," Shearer said.

The Patriots will host the annual Veterans' Luncheon following the Connellsville Veterans Day Parade at 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Connellsville Readiness Center, 701 Petersburg Road, just off Rockridge Road, Connellsville.

Reservations are required by Nov. 1 and can be made by sending an e-mail to Shearer at lshearer@casdfalcons.org or calling 724-322-1494.

Renovations at the high school necessitated the venue change and the RSVP requirement.

"We will be making the lunch ourselves, which will be sandwich wraps, soups, salad, cake and beverages," Shearer said. "We need an accurate count."

Lt. Col. Ros Cammon will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon, "Honoring All Who Served."

The CAHS Patriots will send another round of Christmas packages to armed forces deployed in the Middle East. "We'll send them the week before Thanksgiving," Shearer said.

In addition to snacks and personal items, the packages will contain Christmas cards written by district students. Shearer said 46 teachers in nine buildings have signed up to send cards so far. "We're in this together," she said.

The Patriots have shipped 6,301 packages abroad worth $300,000, exclusive of postage, since 2003.

The Patriots have pledged to keep sending the packages, "until they all come home," Shearer said.

Donations are accepted throughout the school year and the Patriots raise money at several events. Despite cold, rainy weather, the group raised $500 at the recent Autumn Mum Festival. "We were surprised. We were blessed," Shearer said. Members continue to sell "Proud to Be An American" banners for $1 to community members and $25 to businesses. Banners purchased by students are on display outside the auditorium and business banners decorate the wall of the high school visitors' entrance.

The Patriots also are selling wreaths to decorate veterans' graves at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, Bridgeville, as part of the Wreaths Across America project.

Wreaths cost $15 each. Make checks payable to: Wreaths Across America and mail to: Linda Shearer, CAHS Patriots Inc., 201 Falcon Dr., Connellsville, PA 15425.

Checks must be received by Nov. 1 as each wreath is made fresh to order.

If the students sell 400 wreaths, Shearer has promised to provide up to two buses to take students and supporters to Bridgeville in December to lay the wreaths.

This will be the fourth year for this moving remembrance, Shearer said. Students sold 603 wreaths last year.

New members to the Patriots of all ages are welcome. Contact Shearer at the high school.

Shearer has no relatives in the military. She has been asked why she never wants to forget those serving and who have served. "They say, 'You have no dog in this fight,' and I respond, 'I have the whole pack.' They're all mine. Kids who sat in my classrooms. We're all family. We all care for and take care of one another. Don't forget, they're still on the front lines for you and me."

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