Chris Funge’s third-grade class was abuzz with creative activity Friday morning at Larson Elementary, as 24 students created personalized birthday cards for an American hero.

Funge said his class found out recently that the family of Tom Dimperio, a World War II veteran who will turn 100 years old on Aug. 18, thought it would be great to have birthday cards delivered to him to celebrate the milestone.

“We saw that as a great opportunity to give back to the veterans that helped save our country and protect us,” Funge said.

The class spent Thursday learning more about Dimperio. They learned that he was injured three different times during his service and that he was awarded three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

The class also studied about different military services, read a book about veterans and shared stories about veterans in their own families.

“We talked about kindness and how to bring kindness to others. In the cards we wanted to wish him his hundredth birthday,” Funge said. “We wanted to show that we were aware of his service, so they could draw Purple Hearts or an American flag, fireworks, things like that. What we wanted to do was just bring a smile to his face.”

Addison Bacon, 8, decorated her card to make it look like a birthday party, and also included an American flag.

“I learned (Dimperio) has helped America for 100 years, and we appreciate everything he has done to serve the American cities,” she said.

“He saved other people’s lives,” said Eysa Kahn, 8.

U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, encouraged students to make a meaningful gesture to honor Dimperio on his birthday by sending him a well-deserved 100th birthday card.

“Tom Dimperio is a real-life hero — he put everything on the line to protect our country during World War II — and he has the scars to prove it,” Harder said in a press release.

“He did his part — now it’s time for us to do ours,” Harder said.

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