Providing a furry friend

John Marshall Service Project

ROCHESTER, Minn. — It is hard for many of us to imagine unless you have been in the situation, but for those who have fought in a war, coming home can be a stressful situation. For soldiers who are suffering from trauma or other injuries, it can be even more difficult.

So some local students are doing their part to make the transition a little more comfortable.

Students at John Marshall High School in Rochester commit to a service project every year and this year, it involves a furry friend.

“We thought that it would be really interesting to get involved and be one of the first schools to fully sponsor a service dog,” said John Marshall sophomore Taryn Adams.

It is not just any service dog. These animals are going to wounded veterans returning from war who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or other traumatic brain injuries.

“I really get to see the passion that these veterans have and just really understand what they’ve been through,” said John Marshall sophomore Grace Dokken.

Valerie Wassmer has been teaching social studies at the school for 14 years. In her first year on the job she started what she calls the “spirit of service” project.

“It’s always been very important that the students have a sense of giving back and we talk about America being a benevolent society, so it’s always been important that our students find a way to give back,” Wassmer said.

She said this year’s sophomore class is really giving back.

“This is definitely the biggest in terms of monetary funding. In 2005, we built a school in Vietnam, that was pretty huge,” Wassmer said.

Recently they have been looking to help out closer to home.

“They tend to pick things that are near and dear to their heart and JM has always rallied around veterans and so this year I think they were just really inspired,” Wassmer said.

These John Marshall students say in a community that is so supportive of their local veterans, they could not think of a better place to do a project like this.

“We’re a community that supports veterans and we’re a community that loves to just come together for a great cause,” Dokken said.

The students are also holding a clothing and shoe donation drive later this week.

You can find them in the John Marshall High School parking lot before (7-9 a.m.) and after school Friday (2-4 p.m.) and from 10-3 p.m. Saturday.

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