Serving a cause

When Malden Catholic Assistant Principal for Student Life Jeff Smith talked about why the school’s students considered receiving the iPods for Wounded Veterans Catholic Service Award a huge honor, he talked about affinity and sacrifice.

“It is such a worthy cause for our students. It really hits home as many of our students and staff have family members and friends who are actively serving or have served in the military,” Smith said.

The award presented by iPods for Wounded Veterans honors Malden Catholic’s Lancers in Action for their dedication to helping veterans, specifically by helping to provide iPods for donation to military servicemen and women recovering from injuries and other trauma.

In the words of iPods for Wounded Warriors founder Paul Cardello, the Malden Catholic students did something to help veterans “… instead of standing on the sidelines.”

Cardello and iPods for Wounded Veterans co-founder John Parker started the organization when they learned wounded service members recovering in hospitals wanted an easy way to listen to music.

Cardello and Parker delivered 32 iPods to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and started looking for organizations interested in helping them provide more iPods to veterans.

Lancers in Action stepped up to help. Since getting their start at the school in 2011, the Lancers have prepared care packages and sent letters to members of the military serving overseas around the holidays. They have collected used cell phones for reconditioning and shipment to servicemen and women.

Cardello said student groups like Lancers in Action make a difference by meeting veterans’ specific needs. It’s easy to take a pastime like listening to music for granted. But Cardello said veterans recovering from amputations or in treatment for brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome need every source of relaxation or diversion they can get. Many are undergoing intensive rehabilitation requiring extensive hospital stays.

Lancers in Action members have also visited veterans at the Chelsea Soldiers Home, and volunteered at Barnes and Noble Book Fairs in Burlington on Veterans Day and Memorial Day weekends, greeting customers and honoring veterans.

Cardello said Malden Catholic’s seven-year history of helping veterans makes the organization a source of inspiration for other student groups interested in partnering with groups like iPods for Wounded Veterans.

The sum of the partnership outstrips the efforts undertaken by veterans groups and their student partners. Handing someone who served this country an iPod doesn’t seem like a big deal until the human element of that act of generosity is factored into the equation.

Veterans know their comrades will step up and help them, but seeing teenagers join forces with veterans is a reason to be inspired. The partnership often represents successful efforts to bridge a generation gap. It also dispels the stereotype of American teenagers as spoiled brats who don’t care about anything that isn’t connected to social media.

Malden Catholic’s Lancers in Action are standard bearers for young people who want to be socially conscious by helping veterans and who understand that helping veterans means helping people who make huge sacrifices for a cause so many others have served.

More information on iPods for Wounded Veterans is available at ipodsforwoundedveterans.org.

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