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State Honoree

Cristina Bequer

California

Cristina Bequer, 12, of Blythe, Calif., a seventh-grader at Blythe Middle School, organized a community campaign that collected more than a thousand handmade greeting cards expressing support and gratitude to American servicemen and women. When Cristina saw a television ad about a national campaign to collect thank-you cards and letters for U.S. soldiers, she decided to get involved. "I felt this was important because no one in our city was heading this campaign, and I wanted our soldiers to know that the city of Blythe supports them and we thank them for protecting our country," she said.Cristina announced her campaign at a 4-H meeting; gave speeches about it at local schools, city events and her church; and arranged for a local newspaper and cable television company to publicize her efforts. She then distributed collection boxes to schools, and set up tables at a variety of community venues where people could sign pre-made cards and posters for the troops. Cristina ended up with 1,100 cards and letters to contribute to the national A Million Thanks campaign. "We were able to tell our soldiers how much they are appreciated," she said. "Everyone loves getting mail, especially when it is a card telling you what you're doing is important and that the people of the United States support you."