Making a Difference: 10-year-old helping veterans with display in Johnstown Galleria
Many people thank those who serve our country on certain days of the year but one 10-year-old from Central City shows her appreciation to veterans every single day.
Rhylea Roberts put together a beautiful display in an empty storefront in the Galleria in Johnstown to show veterans that people care and she hopes others will follow her efforts to be there for them.
“They do so much for us. If it weren't for them we wouldn't be a free country,” said Roberts.
Rhylea Roberts has a strong passion for helping veterans.
At just 10-years-old, she's doing her part in making sure veterans are saluted when they come home.
“I just thought people should know that there's groups out here that are doing things for veterans and maybe they'd want to come and join,” Roberts said.
While walking through the Galleria in Johnstown, you may see this display.
The Cairnbrook Elementary School student made it to spread the word about the Richland American Legion Auxiliary. She's a member and the junior president for the state.
She's inspired by her dad, Erik Roberts, who is in the Army National Guard and her brother, Zach Gaudette, who just started serving in the US Army.
In the first window, there's a POW table for those who went missing or died in war.
“So the glass is upside down because they're not here so they can't toast with us today,” Roberts said as she showed the table.
There’s also a military child's table with a birthday hat, ballet shoes, and a baseball glove.
“They might not be here for special occasions such as birthdays and games," Roberts said.
Also, red poppy flowers are scattered on the floor. They are made by veterans in Pennsylvania VA hospitals.
Next year, the auxiliary will be celebrating 100 years of changing veterans' lives.
“Just spend time with them that’s what they want. You spend 5 minutes with them and you make their day. A lot of them have no company, no family,” said Kelly Moyer, the unit president at Richland American Legion Auxiliary and the department poppy chairman.
Roberts raises money too by selling paintings and crafts she makes.
She learned 12 deployed soldiers from our area haven't received anything and wants to start sending them care packages.
“It’d probably let them know wow these people are really thinking of us it’s good that we're really making people think of us, we're doing something,” Roberts said.
They want more people to become a part of the legion family.
“If we don't get the younger ones involved we aren't going to have an auxiliary or have programs. Our average age at meetings is probably 70 years old, I’m considered a young one. So we need to get more like Rhylea involved. Show veterans aren't scary, they're fun to be with.. You can have a good time with them. They're lonely, they need our visits,” Moyer said.
And help every veteran feel special for serving our country.
“I do hope that it stays here and that more people will notice it so that they can see it and be like wow maybe I should, if they're doing this stuff then maybe I should too,” Roberts said.
If you want to help her fill the care packages, you can bring any items or even letters for the soldiers to the Richland American Legion Auxiliary or contact them through their Facebook page.
You can also help local veterans by donating. The auxiliary holds crafts shows throughout the year, the next big one will be on veteran's day on November 11th.
Right now, they would really like more people to become members. You just must have a relative that served during war time.
The Auxiliary is located at 390 Oakridge Drive in Johnstown or find them on facebook here.