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February 05. 2014 9:13PM

Londonderry students backing Harbor Homes’ Dalianis House

LONDONDERRY — Long after Veterans Day has passed, members of the Londonderry High School community continue to keep servicemen and women in their thoughts.

The school’s relationship with Harbor Homes’ Dalianis House, a former furniture store in Nashua that’s been transformed into a transitional shelter for dozens of homeless veterans, began this past November with the delivery of 100 handmade Veterans Day cards, but it certainly didn’t end there.

Since that time, students and staff have been raising funds and collecting goods by the truckload to donate to the local shelter.

Teachers Kelly Giguere and Mary Shank approached Roger Sampson, the high school’s computer support specialist and a veteran of the Marine Corps, last fall when some of their students expressed interest in honoring area veterans.

Soon after, Sampson participated in a veterans’ panel, where the students’ interest in veterans’ causes grew.

Sampson himself delivered a huge box of cards to the Nashua veterans home, where he was deeply moved by what he witnessed there.

“The things these folks needed most are the things most of us take for granted,” he said.

As part of Harbor Homes’ Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing program, the Dalianis House, along with three other facilities around the state, assists veterans and their families for up to two years, giving them the chance to pursue employment, combat substance abuse and further their education in a safe, supportive environment.

To date, more than 430 veterans have obtained employment, and more than 300 homeless veteran households now live independently in their communities, thanks to the services Harbor Homes provid es.

By December, Sampson and the students had collected several truckloads of gently used home furnishings for the Dalianis House and Giguere began working with the Londonderry High School chapter of the National Honor Society to raise funds for Harbor Homes.Proceeds from a winter dodge ball tournament and the students’ “extreme couponing” efforts totaled more than $2,000, which the students delivered on Jan. 17.

“We are just amazed at the incredible generosity and imaginative fundraising efforts of this school,” said Peter Kelleher, president and CEO of Harbor Homes. “Our veterans are so appreciative of these gifts.”Kelleher noted that the charity’s veteran population continues to grow, and the outpouring of compassion from Londonderry High School offers hope for the future.Sampson and the students are collecting household items in hopes of arranging another delivery to the Dalianis House in the spring.This time, Kelleher said he plans to return the favor.

Kelleher said he plans to honor four fallen soldiers and former Londonderry High School students with recognition in Harbor Homes’ Bricks of Honor program.

The four warriors are Lance Cpl. Peter Sora (Class of 2002) who died during a training accident at Camp Pendleton, Calif., later that year; PFC Eric Currier (Class of 2007) who was fatally injured in Afghanistan in 2010; Air Force Lt. Peter Sohm (Class of 2011) who died in a plane crash near Goodfellow Air Base in Texas in 2011; and U.S. Army Cpl. Tyler Pimpis (Class of 2009) who was killed in a motorcycle crash in Killeen, Texas, last August.

Engraved bricks bearing the names of the four fallen Londonderry soldiers will soon grace the grounds of the Dalianis House.

To donate goods to the Dalianis House, contact Sampson at rsampson@londonderry.org.

For more information on Veterans FIRST, visit www.harborhomes.org/veterans-first/.


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