Students ‘putt’ smiles on soldiers’ faces with decorated golf balls and personalized notes

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LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students from a school in Lancaster are sending hundreds of personalized golf balls to our troops this holiday season.

“I’m kind of making it bright colored to show that your spirit can still be bright, even though you’re away from your family during the holiday season,” Aiden Seyler said, a 5th grader in Alison Camp’s class.

Aiden is one of 250 kids at William Street School, in Lancaster, coloring golf balls and writing letters to soldiers serving in combat zones, as apart of the Bunkers in Baghdad charity.

“I bet they’re really sad, but know they’re doing something really good for the world,” Gianna Manetta said, another 5th grader in Camp’s class.

You may be wondering, ‘Why golf balls?’ Golf is a therapeutic sport for the troops to play while they’re away from home.

Bunkers in Baghdad was founded 11 years ago by Joeseph Hanna, a partner at the law firm Goldberg Sagalla. You’ll find just as many golf balls and clubs in his office downtown, as you do paperwork.

“In 2008 I was watching 60 Minutes, and they were showing soldiers hitting golf balls in the desert… and I thought, ‘oh that’s pretty cool,’ and I forgot about it,” Hanna said. “And then I read an article by David Feherty, in Golf Magazine, that said a troop’s favorite form of stress relief is hitting golf balls.”

To date, Hanna has helped send more than 10 million golf balls, and more than 800,000 golf clubs to 70 countries around the world. Some of the balls are new, others are found and sent to the charity by volunteers around the country. And Hanna said personalizing them, like the kids at William Street are doing, is so important to the troops.

“When they get a letter, or a drawing, or a picture from these students, it reminds them of their own children, their nieces, their nephews, (and) their neighbors,” he said. “They thank us for the golf equipment, they’re very excited to get it, but they thank us even more for the colored golf balls and the letters from the students.”

Students from more than 700 schools across the country have helped color golf balls and write notes to the troops.

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