BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (KIDK/KXPI) - The younger generation has found a way to honor veterans and KIDK Eyewitness News 3 wanted to help. News anchor Todd Kunz found some members of the freshman student council at Thunder Ridge High School in Bonneville School District #93 getting ready for their Veterans Day program.
It was time to surprise them and Pay It Forward.
The student council is always looking for ways to serve.
"It's all about helping people," said Edwardo Trejo.
The freshman council came up with the idea of giving back to our veterans.
"I mean, it just kind of stands out from other things. Because when you think of veterans, you think about people who died for our country, people who put their whole life on the line for us. And so, that kind of just hits different, and it's better than doing a different activity, which would make us feel better, but the whole point of it was to make some other people feel better. And I think veterans was the best one," said freshman Spencer Thompson.
Kunz caught the council members Friday putting together gift baskets to surprise 16 veterans during their upcoming Veterans Day program.
"Veterans have done so much for the country, and it just means so much to me and honestly, this is the least I can do to show my appreciation," said freshman Vice President Hailey Daniels.
"Showing appreciation, love to all the people that have helped us," added Trejo.
Tina Gardner is a teacher at Thunder Ridge High School. She is one of the organizers of the program.
"Every one of these veterans would say that they would lay down their life for us, and I love seeing this younger generation recognize that and try to honor them," said Gardner.
The student body has been very much in support of this project.
Time to help the students Pay It Forward.
"They're super supportive of whatever we want to do, and so it's pretty easy to do stuff like this," said Thompson.
"Hey Spencer," said a woman walking into the classroom.
"Hi," said Thompson.
"Hi, I'm Angie (Phillips)," said the woman.
"Nice to meet you," said Thompson.
"Nice to meet you, too. I'm with Mountain American Credit Union. And I'm here today, because we heard about the awesome things you guys with the student council, all of you, are doing to honor our veterans and because of that, today we wanted to Pay It Forward to you with $500," said Phillips, handing over a blue envelope of cash.
"Holy cow!" said Thompson.
"To help you guys keep Paying It Forward to our veterans on Veterans Day," said Phillips.
"Thank you so much!" said Thompson.
"Thank you so much!" said other students in the classroom.
"You're so welcome. Congratulations guys!" said Phillips.
"Thank you," said Thompson.
There were witnesses to this surprise.
"Oh, it was amazing. These freshmen are seriously so amazing, and they can take on anything, as you can see, they're just, they're awesome," said senior Reagan Grover, who recorded the classroom surprise on her cellphone.
One of the witnesses was Principal Doug McLaren.
"It just softens the heart. It just makes you know that there are a lot of good people out there, a lot of good individuals that want to come together and be in support of our veterans and what a great job these students are doing to spearhead the efforts," said McLaren, who also recorded it with his cellphone.
Their efforts and hard work ended up at the Veterans Day program in front of the student body, with people from the community and 16 veterans honored with the special gift basket assembled by the students.
One of those was Sgt. Robert Cox. He fought in the Pacific during World War II and turned 99 years young this month. Everyone wanted to shake his hand. Cox quickly became the center of attention. There were tears and long line of students who wanted to meet him, shake hands, and even get a few pictures.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at firstname.lastname@example.org.