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EXETER, R.I. (WPRI) — Jaedan Grzybowski knows all too well the sacrifices soldiers and their families make each and every day.

Grzybowski was a third grader at Metcalf Elementary School when her father was deployed four years ago.

“I was really struggling with his deployment,” she recalled.

Grzybowski said her teacher noticed.

“My teacher wrote a grant to get us a cart full of military kids books,” she said.

That cart of books is what ultimately led to the creation of the Military Kids Group.

The Military Kids Group was formed by school psychologist Karen Murray, and Grzybowski was one of the first students to join.

“We found a bunch of kids who had parents in the military and started getting them together once a week to do an activity,” she said.

Those activities, according to Grzybowski, include writing letters to soldiers on deployment.

“I really like the idea of making someone else smile,” she beamed.

Now an eighth grader at Exeter/West Greenwich Junior High School, Grzybowski still attends the weekly gatherings, where she gets to meet other students from military families like Hailey Lavoie.

“I am so grateful because they’ve done so many things for us and our country,” Lavoie said of those who have served or are currently serving. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

Kamilah Rivera-Nesrala, a sixth grader at Metcalf Elementary, has moved six times during her young life.

“[My father has] been in the Army for a long time,” she said. “I’m proud of him … He protects our country every day.”

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lloyd Ashong said the letters are important and can easily boost a soldier’s morale.

“When I was deployed, I received a few letters like these,” Ashong said. “It kept me motivated.”

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