Loveland Colorado has opened its heart.

The little town known for sending Valentine Day cards with a special postmark has shown there is truly a beating, caring heart there as well.

Below is an e-mail received from Terri Jo Peterson.  Terri, an elementary teacher at Van Buren Elementary School in Loveland, has spent many days over the past 5 years sharing her experience and knowledge with teachers of the Archdiocesan schools.  Those of you who have attend summer institutes know her well.

In her words:


"Hi Helen,

Things are going great here. I told Kelly we had adopted 83 students who were displaced by the storm. They lost homes and schools and are currently at Joan of Arc(LaPlace). We are sponsoring them for Christmas. The generosity of this community has been amazing. Each class adopted two students. Then I had teachers, softball teams, retired teachers, friends of retired teachers, teachers from other goes on and on asking if they could also help. I baked with a former teacher at Van Buren over the weekend. She adopted three 8th graders and is planning on purchasing CD walkmen for all of them. Larry (Larry Bourgeois, Principal at St. Joan of Arc) and I have talked several times, and I'm planning on shipping everything to the school, already packaged for the kids. Then he can distribute them to the families.

We're planning on sorting and wrapping this week and hoping to ship them by the beginning of next week. Anyway, I will take Kelly up on his offer to use your corporate account (Benchmark One) for UPS since I haven't had any luck with the stores here. I'll get the details and then let you know.

Thanks so much!

Talk to you soon,




Hi Helen,

This has been a heartwarming experience for me in so many ways. I feared it was a daunting task initially, but I was continually overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in our school community. Each class adopted two students each. Some individual teachers within the building also adopted students. Retired teachers also asked to be included. They specifically asked for the ones who had experienced the most loss. Their generosity was overwhelming. Various people in the community, from doctors to construction workers, heard about the project and adopted students. Each member of a regional softball team also adopted a person. As gifts started to arrive at school, our librarian offered her book room as a storage facility.

The parent organization heard about the project and volunteered to pay for the boxes if they were needed. When I told them that I thought I had enough, they brought in new board games and gave hundreds of items from the Santa Shop they sponsored last week. Any profit that they made, they donated in items for the kids. (They didn't want me to know about that, but I have my sources.) They also are the ones responsible for the gift bags. When another parent asked what she could give, I told her we needed some wrapping paper. The next day, I had 1000 square feet of wrapping paper.

Last Friday, the librarian donated half a day to help organize the gifts for individual students. Two retired teachers came in during the afternoon and wrapped for a few hours. My college aide also helped that afternoon. Then she heard that we were going to wrap on Saturday and asked if she could help out and donate her time. Saturday morning I arrived at 6:30 a.m. to complete the organization before two retired teachers, my college aide and my teaching partner came to wrap. By 5:30 p.m., we had completed the wrapping and were packaging the gifts. All told there were 39 hours of time donated to the gift wrapping.

Thank you so much for shipping the packages. It was the one part of this project that I couldn't seem to complete independently.

Have a wonderful holiday. Talk to you soon. Terri


The shipping weight of the 13 cartons donated by Terri and Van Buren Elementary School was 517 lbs.  They were picked up by UPS from Benchmark One on Monday 12/12 for delivery to St. Joan of Arc School on Thursday 12/15. 

Christmas will be a lot better for many students who lost everything during Hurricane Katrina. 

 Santa truly exists in many forms..... with a bit of help from some wonderful, caring people.



St. Joan of Arc Christmas

Dear Terri,

It is 7:00 PM and I am still in the office, but I could not leave without letting you know about the most wonderful day at SJA since the storm - today! And you made it happen. First, the entire school received the Viking Voice today and my column. You should have received the column yesterday. If you still don't have it let me know ASAP. Second, Santa Claus came today to distribute your gifts. It was magical.

One, little boy in Pre - K 4 unwrapped one gift at a time and went around the room showing each gift to everyone. One 8th grade boy was almost in tears. He did not open any gifts. He wanted to know if he could take them home and unwrap them on Christmas.

A fifth grade girl asked, "Are all these things really for me?" A second grade girl wanted to know if her brother in 8th grade would also get gifts because if he didn't have any she would give him some of hers. A sixth grade girl was delighted with each gift she opened. She said she understood why your town was called "Loveland". A 7th grade boy said he didn't deserve any gifts because there were many people worse off them him. The two twins in second grade wanted to know why Christmas was early.

I could go on, but you get the idea. You have made such a difference in the lives of our children. We could never thank you enough. My assistant principal thanked me for letting her help today, but you made it all happen.

God bless you Terri. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May the time soon come when we can meet again, and I can thank you in person. The pictures will follow soon.