Harrison sisters sell their toys, fundraise to help send veterans to our nation's capital

'Cause they fighted for us'
Honor Flight sister
Posted at 5:25 PM, May 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-22 18:40:20-04

HARRISON, Ohio — When you were a kid could you have sold your favorite toys for a cause?

Those precious pieces of plastic and metal — whether they were Transformers, Hot Wheels or a multi-story pink Barbie house complete with a pink Corvette — were often part of our vast imagination and prize possessions.

Two girls from Harrison are putting their love for those items aside and doing their part to help local veterans see the monuments built in their honor.

In our nation’s capital stand monuments and memorials dedicated to the men and women who’ve given their all for their country. Conflicts around the globe called for American citizens to take up arms and protect the freedoms of the American people as well as the rights and freedoms of our allies.

The Honor Flight program ensures veterans, at no cost to them, get the chance to fly to D.C. Tessa Ziegler, 10, and her sister Raya, 6, have raised more than $10,000 combined with matching donations to support Honor Flight.

"They raised $801 at their last yard sale,” said Rachel Ziegler, the girls’ mother.

At the yard sale, they put up a sign that reads "All money goes to the Honor Flight" and they don’t put a price on anything. Rachel Ziegler said the girls sell the toys they no longer play with and often people pay or donate much more than anything is worth.

“It makes me feel happy to give our toys away for just the veterans,” Tessa Ziegler said.

It’s not the only way they’ve raised money.

“Harrison High School had a military appreciation night, and they worked the baseball game and they raised $1,479 at that,” Rachel Ziegler said.

They’ve been to every Honor Flight homecoming over the past five years.

"Cause they fighted for us,” said Raya Ziegler.

Standing there welcoming the veterans home, Tessa and Raya hand out homemade cards made by the community.

“A lot of them smile, but some of them cry sometimes and hug,” Tessa Ziegler said.

As a result of their efforts, they are also both Honorary Honor Flight Ambassadors for the money they’ve raised for the mission.

The girls' drive to support veterans raised $1,000 last year on Veteran’s Day at O’Charley’s restaurant. They’ve packed care packages at the Yellow Ribbon Support Center with Keith Maupin and placed wreaths on graves at Spring Grove Cemetery at Christmas among other things.

Tessa and Raya will be at the next Honor Flight homecoming.

If you’re ever fortunate to serve as an Honor Flight Guardian or are a veteran on your first flight arriving back at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, know that they will be there waiting for you to welcome you home.

If you have a veteran story to tell in your community, email homefront@wcpo.com. You also can join the Homefront Facebook group, follow Craig McKee on Facebook and find more Homefront stories here.

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