Kristina Tanfara, a Lexington High School senior, donated 276 t-shirts and two dozen pairs of socks to the Columbia VA Health Care System (CVAHCS), Dec. 21.
Kristina started her initiative, VeTees, in November while enrolled in Lexington High School’s students in action course.
“In this class students learn and develop strategies to give back to the community by identifying an area in need, and then formulating and implementing a plan to help alleviate that need,” said Kristina. “My research evidenced that some of our local military heroes needed simple items such as t-shirts. This is where I got the idea for my project ‘VeTees.’”
Kristina started VeTees for more than just a class project, for her there was something personal involved.
“[VeTees] is a tribute to my grandfather, who was active in the Korean War, and my uncle, who was in the Marines, special operations, and served in the Middle East,” said Kristina.
To receive donations for VeTees, Kristina asked her church’s congregation at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church to give what they could, and received donations from Beechwood Middle School, after a video promoting VeTees was shown to Beechwood students.
Kristina said that for she started the VeTees initiative hoping to raise 50 shirts to donate to local veterans and was “overwhelmed” and “excited” when at the end of her donation campaign she had received more than 270 shirts and two dozen pairs of socks.
Anthony Tanfara, a nurse manager at the CVAHCS, and Kristina’s father, couldn’t believe the number of items that Kristina raised for her initiative, and is filled with pride for Kristina’s efforts.
“We all try to instill good upbringing in our children,” said Anthony. “[Kristina] is a very kind-hearted person, and my wife, Barbara, and I are very proud of her and the way she organized this project.”
Kristina has a passion for assisting others, something that she credits to her homelife and the examples that her mother and father have set for her. She currently works at a daycare center for children with special needs, teaches a Sunday school class to kindergarteners, and will be attending University of South Carolina – Aiken in 2022, where she plans on majoring in elementary education.
“I want to help each child start their school life and take those first big steps,” said Kristina. “Without a positive start to [in education] there would be no lawyers, chemists, or engineers. I want to be that positive start.”
Kristina’s donations will be distributed to veterans in need, and according to Sherwin Baxter, a CVAHCS voluntary service program support assistant., Kristina’s donations will make a difference in the lives of the veterans that receive her items.
“I think it’s an awesome gesture, especially from the youth in our community as far as looking out for our nations heroes,” said Baxter. “We normally get from larger groups... For an individual student to come up with an idea to make sure that veterans have t-shirts, that’s awesome.”
“I plan on continuing to assist people in need,” said Kristina. “I have been taught that to receive you must hold out your hand to give. I feel honored that I was able to donate the amount of t-shirts that I did to our countries heroes.”