WINTER GARDEN — Sisters Kaitlin and Kailey Wiles have been exposed to the military their entire lives. They have uncles who have served in the U.S. Air Force and the Marines, a grandfather in the Army, and a great-uncle who was in the U.S. Navy. One cousin also is serving in the U.S. Army, and a close family friend recently retired as an Army colonel.
So it seems natural for them to want to participate in a high school program that caters to the military.
Kaitlin Wiles, a senior, started a new club called Warriors for Warriors this year.
“I started Warriors for Warriors because I have always had such a huge respect for people who serve for our country, and I wanted to create an outlet to allow myself and my classmates to give back to the military,” she said.
“The club is about spreading support for veterans and soldiers who are currently serving throughout the West Orange community,” club sponsor Kenneth Hill said. “(Kaitlin) is very passionate about this venture and has incredible respect for people who serve in all branches of the United States military. As a result, she wanted to share this passion with other students, as well as give them an outlet to express their gratitude.”
The club officers are Kaitlin Wiles, president; Jaimie Steck, vice president; Kailey Wiles, secretary; Ryan Lawrence, treasurer; and Hunter Berntson, historian. Berntson has a brother currently serving in the Army.
Hill, the club sponsor, is a history teacher at West Orange; Marlen Acosta-Garcia is assisting him.
The new club already has 30 members representing all four grades at West Orange, and the officers are recruiting more so they can make an even bigger difference in the lives of military personnel. Any WOHS student interested in Warriors for Warriors can contact Hill at [email protected] or [email protected].
“As a group our main goal is to give as much support and respect as possible to the troops that support and defend our country each and every day,” Wiles said.
This includes sending care packages to troops, writing letters to soldiers and volunteering at a veterans hospital. The members are hoping to partner with Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers programs, service and events for wounded veterans of the military following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Currently, club members are working on their entry for the Homecoming parade that hits downtown Winter Garden at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15.
West Orange Principal Doug Szcinski is proud of this new club.
“Being a former Marine, I absolutely love and embrace this idea from our students,” he said. “Service members from all five branches that are serving or have returned need support, and our students are definitely coming through for them.”
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].