PEPPERELL -- A 16-year-old student at North Middlesex Regional High School is looking to prolong the season of giving at least through spring.
During the holiday season, thousands of groups and organizations across the country gather and wrap care packages to send off to servicemen and women overseas as a way to extend gratitude and to ensure that the soldiers have presents to open too.
But Megan Kangas, a junior, wishes to show her appreciation for the troops beyond just the winter holidays. That's why, on Feb. 17, Kangas is hosting her first "Valentine for a Veteran" variety show at the Pepperell VFW. In addition to providing entertainment for the troops, Kangas is also hoping to raise funds and materials to send spring care packages overseas for Easter.
The variety show begins at 1 p.m. The price for general admission is $5, $3 for students and seniors, and free for military members and veterans. There is a $1 reduction in the admission price for each care package item donated.
During the intermission, there will be free refreshments as well as a themed basket raffle. Kangas is seeking donations and will be asking local businesses if they would be willing to chip in items for the baskets. She is also looking for volunteers to help with sound.
Kangas said she has been grateful for the troops for as long as she has been old enough to be aware of their sacrifices.
"I really appreciate everything that the troops have done for us, everything that they work for to help us," said Kangas.
When she would see military families saying goodbye to their loved ones, she said, it struck a chord with her, and she knew she wanted to do something to show her gratitude.
"They're fathers, they're husbands, they're mothers," she said. "I knew I wanted to do something to help."
Kangas, who has been dancing since she was 3 and is involved with singing and with theater, came up with the idea for a show two years ago.
"I want to entertain them. I want them to have a good time with their family and their friends," Kangas said. "We want them to enjoy themselves."
Kangas' mom, Peggy McCabe, said she is impressed with her daughter for the initiative she has taken on the project.
"When she first came up with idea at 14 years old, I just sort of put her off a little, but when she came back again with it six months ago, she took this huge book of notes out of her pocket," said McCabe. "That's when I knew she was really serious about it ... It's a huge undertaking, but I think she can do it."
Kangas is working closely with Chapel and Lorri Guarnieri, both of who are actively involved with military appreciation throughout the community. She has also volunteered to drop off cookies to local veterans with Chapel's Operation: Cookie Drop and recently volunteered at the Pepperell Army Community Covenant's Military Appreciation Dinner.
"We just want to say thank you to the veterans for all they've done for us," said Kangas.
Kangas is gathering names of participants to perform during the show. The show is not exclusively musical; anybody who wants to audition can, said Kangas. Those interested in participating can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.