For students of Angela Abawi's eighth-grade history class at Carson Valley Middle School, celebrating the holidays means recognizing the men and women serving in the U.S. military.
"We want them to know that we appreciate them here," said 13-year-old Bodie Kendall.
On Tuesday, students riffled through a pile of holiday postcards provided by the Blue Star Mothers of America's Sierra Nevada chapter.
Blue Star is a nonprofit organization of mothers with children in the armed forces.
"I couldn't have done this without the Blue Star Mothers," said Abawi. "Soon, my students will be spending time with their families for the holidays, in a safe
environment, laughing and having fun, because of someone overseas who made it possible. The troops are willing to sacrifice time with their own families so that others may have that time."
Red Santas, blue snowmen and green Grinches shone on the fronts of the postcards, but it was what students wrote on the backs of them that personalized each.
"I want to thank you for everything you've been doing for us in America," Bodie wrote on his. "I can't imagine how hard it is to do what you do."
Lili Stainbrook, 13, said writing a postcard was the least she could do for those willing to sacrifice for others.
"I really appreciate how much they do for us," she said. "They're helping us out, and we should try to make them feel happy over there without their families."
Morgan Kerns, also 13, said the troops are missed.
"My friend's dad fought and died helping us," she said. "I hope the soldiers come back home soon. A lot of people miss them."
No student felt that absence more than eighth-grader Tristin Silva, whose father, a member of the Nevada National Guard, shipped out to Afghanistan last month.
"Dear Daddy, I wish you were here for Christmas as well as every day," Tristin wrote on her postcard. "It's not the same without you. I miss you very much and love you even more. Please stay safe and have a Merry Christmas."
Abawi said the postcards will be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan and disseminated among the branches of the armed forces.