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Rusk teacher’s Operation Hugs initiative invests in students’ emotional health

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Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:21 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 11:26 PM CDT
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RUSK, Texas (KLTV) - “I could literally put myself in his shoes, and so I wanted to do something fun for him, you know, where he could just go out and be a kid and have fun.

Jenny Peters lost her father earlier this year, and she also had a student in her third grade class who had lost their mom. While on a field trip, she had the idea to gift this child with a game card to the local arcade.

When she returned, she reached out to the Rusk Elementary School Counselor, Elizabeth Cahalane, to brainstorm her idea.

“Whenever you’re grieving you need a break from the normal, you know, of everyday life and just to be able to go out and have some fun can be just really refreshing for these families.

They discovered that eleven students at Rusk ISD, including two sets of siblings, had lost a parent or immediate caregiver this school year.

Peters knew she couldn’t do this alone, so sent an email district-wide and received donations. this was the start of Operation Hug, a name inspired by her father’s time in the military,

Operation Hug raised enough funds to purchase eleven $50 game cards, for each of the students to go on a trip to Times Square Grand Slam in Tyler, where her third graders had gone on a field trip.

“I just want for students to know how much the teachers and staff here love them, that they’re not just a test, they’re not just a report card, we love them beyond this building. We’re invested in how they’re doing and how they feel. We truly love our students.”

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