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Bracelets Of Encouragement

Jenessa Largent could just be the everyday seventh grader. But as The Early Show's Debbye Turner found out, she's an ambitious, selfless American hero.

The student lives in the small town of White Bear Lake, Minn. just north of the Twin Cities, where the peace and quiet at home was broken last March by the sounds of war in Iraq. The continuous news coverage had special meaning for Jenessa.

Her uncle Mike was stationed far away in Iraq, and she wanted to do something to remember him. She wanted to do something to help bring peace.

"This Saturday at 4th Street Dance Center, there's going be a bracelet party," Jenessa says. "We're trying to make 3,000 bracelets so we can send them out to a whole bunch of soldiers in Iraq."

Jenessa is on a mission, making bracelets after school for her uncle, and for every family member across the country with a soldier in Iraq.

Currently, family and friends surround Jenessa — all helping to make her dream come true.

"I say if soldiers deserve a bracelet, they deserve it done right," she says. "I'm a perfectionist, so I like my bracelets done tight."

The little girl's simple love and concern for her uncle has made her family's mailbox a very busy place. Last April, Jenessa mailed her first braided bracelets from her home, and within five months she heard from people from around the world.

Jenessa explains: "I've heard from the Queen of England, King of Jordan, Dick Cheney."

Like many 12-year-olds, Jenessa enjoys school and dance. What sets her apart is her no-nonsense practicality, and her focus on the task at hand.

"I don't know why, I always wanted to make something and sell it," Jenessa tries to reason.

Thanks to the hard work of Jenessa's mom and a Web site designed by her aunt, "Harms Way 4 Kids" bracelet orders began to come in by the hundreds. And then came media exposure, such as the "Tonight Show."

Jenessa touched people's hearts, and the floodgates opened. The wife of a soldier in Iraq wrote:

"It means so much when perfect strangers care enough about other people to do something like what you are doing."

Another asked for a bracelet so her daughter will "always have a piece of her daddy with her at all times."

The family has completed 30,000 bracelets to date. Now, Jenessa has a backlog of over 50,000 orders — and counting.

But what may be the most extraordinary change is at Central Middle School, in the hearts and minds of students thousands of miles away from the war in Iraq.

"Like, right now, we're in school, and they're still fighting over there for us," says student Holly. "I hope [the bracelets] make them feel happy because so many people put their effort and time into doing this."

Jenessa's bracelets have touch many lives with their heartstrings woven together by her giving spirit.

"It's sad, too, and it almost makes me feel bad, because there's a lot of people who e-mail and say, 'Please don't forget about us.' From other places like in Kosovo, places that aren't all over the news," she says. "You feel like, 'What can I do to help you when you've helped me so much?'"

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