Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Kids spend hours of free time for veterans as part of Freedom Pen Project Submitted: 03/20/2017
Natalie Cardona
Natalie Cardona
Reporter/Anchor
ncardona@wjfw.com

Kids spend hours of free time for veterans as part of Freedom Pen Project
MERRILL - Kids spend hours of their free time every week handcrafting wooden pens at Prairie River Middle School in Merrill. 

They chop, whittle, and sand wooden pens for veterans. 

"They don't know these veterans. They don't know what war they were in or what they did, but they do understand what they did created freedom for us," said manufacturing and construction teacher Pete McConnell.


This project isn't for a class. The eighth-graders do it for the Freedom Pen Project. 

McConnell got the idea from a friend who works with the Badger Honor Flight near Madison.

"I asked him, 'Can I steal your idea?' And he said, 'I'd love for you to do that,'" said McConnell. 

Since the project started in January, the kids have made more than 75 pens. 

Those pens will be given to veterans taking the Never Forgotten Honor Flight in May. 

"They have no fear," McConnell said of the students. "They trust me, they trust the process. They're not afraid of the machine. At first they might be."

McConnell had to do a lot of research on that process in his free time so the kids could take away even more woodworking knowledge. 

"I've heard of wood pens and how they made them, but I have never seen it done, so I wondered if I could do that," said eighth-grader Izayah King. 
  
King has been cranking out pens for the last couple of months. He even got the chance to honor his grandfather, who fought in the Navy. 

"When I gave it to him he just loved it. It just made his day. It made me so happy and made me love what I do here," said King. 

Purpleheart, walnut, padauk: each student can rattle of the type of wood they use for the pens, and whether the detail on the pen is gunmetal or gold. 

"A veteran that fought for my country is going to get something that I made for him. It's a way to show my gratitude," said Tavius Morris. 

Kennedy Berndt feels that way too. She decided to do the Freedom Pen workshops in her free time, even though her friends didn't want to. 

"They didn't want to get lacquer on their hands or anything like that," said Berndt. 

It doesn't bother her though. 

The group plans to keep cranking out pens until they meet their goal of 100 pens. 

Then those pens will be boxed up and given to the veterans before the Honor Flight takes off May 22. 

McConnell plans to keep the project up for future honor flights. 

"It's why I teach," said McConnell. "Children always make it better." 







Related Weblinks:
Contact Pete McConnell:

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

WAUSAU - A t-shirt's unique design starts somewhere.

For one Wausau woman, it is right in her basement home studio.

It's all handwork and a green machine press for self-taught screen printer Britnie Remer and her business, Wicked Good Vibes.

Intrigue got Britnie started back in 2015.

It was a trial and error process at first.

"It gave me time to grow into what I wanted to be and figure out what it was that I wanted to do specifically," says Remer.

Things started to pick up when she sold at her first market in Iowa a couple of years ago.

"It kind of opened doors to all these new potential customers I didn't know about."

She sometimes spends 15 or 16 hours screen printing in her home studio.

Wicked Good Vibes has pretty much shipped to every single state, and even a couple of places in Europe.

"Every single order that I get, even here in Wausau... I am so thankful and so surprised every day."

For more info on Wicked Good Vibes Apparel, click below.

+ Read More

CARLTON, MINNESOTA - A man killed in northeastern Minnesota used to be the director of the Native American Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

57 year old Andrew Gokee of Wisconsin Rapids was shot in the head over the weekend at his brother's house.

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - Hunters can decide whether to keep their turkey or donate it to families in need.

The DNR started a turkey donation program last year with hopes of expanding it this spring.

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - From here on out, Mosinee's Kevin Osterbrink will plow snow with a Stormy Kromer hat on his head--and a Stormy Kromer pattern on his plow.

Osterbrink entered his wife, Kayla Cisler-Osterbrink, in a prize drawing from Stormy Kromer and BOSS Snowplow. Her entry won, and BOSS delivered the red plaid patterned snowplow on Friday in Mosinee.

"I was tapping maple trees, and my wife showed up and said I had some homework to do because she won the plow," Osterbrink said, remembering how he found out they won.

"The first thing I told her was, 'That's the last thing I need, more work to do.' She said, 'Well, I think you want to do this, because you just won the Stormy Kromer plow," Osterbrink said.

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - Police released the name of man found dead at a Marathon City motel last week. 

28-year-old Brian Kienast was reported missing from Adams County on November 22, 2017.

According to the press release, Kienast had been in Marathon City during the week of Thanksgiving. 

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office are asking people for information about Kienast. 

If anyone saw or had contact with Kienast since last November please contact the sheriff's office. 

You can submit a tip online or call 877-409-8777

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments.

"We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson.

Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's.

"We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson. 

"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent.

The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants.

"For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent.  

"We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - When you grab a bowl out of your cupboard, it probably came from a big box store.

You won't find those at The Warehouse Art Center in Eagle River.

These are hand-thrown bowls made right in the ceramic studio.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here