The 15 children in the
class at Kinderville Preschool may be too young at ages 4 and 5
to understand the dangers for soldiers involved in the war in
The 15 children in the “Bullfrogs” class at Kinderville Preschool may be too young at ages 4 and 5 to understand the dangers for soldiers involved in the war in Iraq.
The kids aren’t lacking in curiosity, however – something owner Gina Annotti Oliveira recently learned when a boy in the class asked, “If mommies and daddies are gone to war, who’s going to take care of the babies?”
Oliveira, realizing that the kids have likely heard about the war or seen TV coverage, responded, as she called it, “lightly.” She told the class that some people work for the government to protect the country. And their relatives, possibly grandmas or grandpas, could take care of the kids when the soldiers go away.
That boy’s concern, which was immediately followed by a relentless round of questions from other classmates, sparked an idea for Oliveira. She asked the kids if they would be interested in tying yellow ribbons to trees throughout downtown Hollister to show support for the soldiers and their safe return home.
“I just wanted to expose the kids to the war really lightly, but give them a little meaning,” said Oliveira, who has four children of her own.
The student unanimously agreed to the suggestion. Oliveira received permission from City Clerk Geri Johnson and began planning the activity, which will take place Thursday morning. She also got the approval of the Hollister Downtown Association, and HDA Director Liz Kresky will accompany Oliveira and the kids and help them tie the ribbons.
They’re “going to aim for all of downtown,” Oliveira said, including Third and San Benito streets to South and San Benito. The kids have already tied ribbons to trees outside their school, located at 433 Seventh St.
“We want the soldiers to come home safe,” said 5-year-old Heidi Heidkamp, “because they love their families, and so they can play with their dogs.”
Five-year-old Jillian Castro said, “We want them to really really come home and be really, really safe.”
Oliveira said the national campaign “Operation Yellow Ribbon” – which also includes placement of yellow ribbons in support of soldiers – did not inspire the kids’ crusade, which they decided to call “Operation Love.” The two undertakings have different motivations and purposes, Oliveira said.
Hollister’s Operation Love not only supports the soldiers’ safe return home, she said, but the yellow ribbons will also emphasize support for the children of soldiers.
Oliveira said Operation Love is not a showing of support, or dissension, for justification of the war. She just hopes the kids come away feeling involved and supportive, she said, “on a small level.”
“Their job right now,” Oliveira said, “is to just play and have fun and not worry about anything.”
The yellow ribbons will also give Hollister’s parents of young children an opportunity to explain the war, Oliveira said, “to ease their minds.”
When the kids bring up the war, Oliveira has kept the class discussion simple. For instance, she has asked if anyone in the class has relatives involved in the war.
“My aunt’s husband is in the Army,” said 5-year-old Hannah Martinez. “His name is Ian.”
Castro added, “One of my baby sitter’s friends is in the Army.”
As she did with the 15 children at Kindercare on the day of their initial questions about the war, on Tuesday Oliveira gathered them, as she called it, in a “circle of love.”
They held hands, closed their eyes and, as Oliveira voiced directions to them, had “good thoughts that mommies and daddies can come back safe.”