KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — For the last several weeks, children at the Glendive School District in Montana have been writing letters to veterans. One letter made its way to East Tennessee and into Don Dare‘s mailbox.

It’s part of the district’s Veteran Letter Writing Campaign. The letters go directly to veterans across the county.

The person leading the effort is Katy Kennedy, the principal at Washington Middle School, in Glendive, Montana. She’s continuing the legacy her dad, a Vietnam veteran, initiated to his buddies.

“My dad started writing to individuals he knew, as few who had just joined the service, they were young and some acquaintances a total of 8 to 9 people,” said Kennedy.

She said her father felt Vietnam veterans were given a raw deal when they came home.

“It was really difficult when you came back. It was hard,” Kennedy said. “The welcome back you did not receive and the way many people treated our Vietnam veterans was very hard. And so my dad made a big effort to say to anyone who happened to be a veteran: Welcome home and thank you for your service.”

The hand-written letters include the phrase, “thank you.” Kennedy was given a rule her dad insisted on.

“You have to have the letters arrive before Veterans Day. Not after because then that feels like you did not remember the veteran,” said Kennedy.

The letter that Dare received was sent personally to him and that really caught his attention. It was written by Christian B.

“Thank you for your service to our country. Our country wouldn’t be the same without veterans like you. I am thinkinh about you this veteran’s day and appreciate the freedoms I enjoy because of your sacrifice.”

Letter sent to Don Dare

“When we speak to our children about this project it is always about the individual,” said Kennedy.

About 3,500 veterans received a personal letter this year. For children who can’t write yet, they practice coloring between the lines The campaign also includes men and women living at homes for veterans.

“It’s going to be around 2,000 letters to Dear Veterans that we sent to specific facilities across the country,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says all the schools in Glendive, Montana participated in the letter-writing campaign.

“We just want to continue to grow and keep reaching out to those who served our country. And also in the process, we are teaching our youngsters and our children about these sacrifices these individuals make,” she said.

For veterans who have received these letters, we thank Mrs. Kennedy and her students But she insists the thanks go to those who have served our country.

“It’s just a token of our appreciation to them because their actual service is priceless,” she said.

Veterans who have received these letters certainly appreciate what Kennedy has started. It is growing as Katy has a school administrative friend in the Chicago, Illinois area who also coordinates the letter-writing campaign.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to fix the number of letters sent to veterans. The number was over 3,000.