Working at a Web Design studio, I spend much of my day navigating the web for information and inspiration. While the extent to which people (over)share frivolous information is sometimes alarming, every so often I find a real gem; I was elated to discover Operation Gratitude.
Operation Gratitude "annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Warriors and their Care Givers. Their mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people."
In just ten days, Operation Gratitude will send their Millionth package. Yes, you read correctly: one million packages to past and present heroes and their families.
Having been raised to consider the needs of others and attending a university that stressed Jesuit values, the notion of service above self has been relevant as long as I can remember. The pressing question remains, how can we integrate service into our daily lives? Having my fair share of student loans, writing a lofty check to a worthy cause is not an option for me, at least not yet. But there are abundant other ways to help.
Mother Teresa said it best.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Operation Gratitude makes it easy and fun to do some good. I like crafting personally, so the hand-made projects looked to be the perfect opportunity. Admittedly, I horde scrapbooking materials and thus had an abundance of paper, decals, stickers, and blank cards on hand. My boyfriend James, a Veteran with twelve years of service in the United States Marine Corps, bought me a Cricut machine for Christmas last year; it was put to good use card making.
Friends and family were over to celebrate my parents' anniversary, so I took advantage of the crowd, got everyone to the table, and distributed supplies. We decorated Christmas cards and signed them with heartfelt messages of thanks. The guys with poor handwriting relayed messages to be written by their wives; they stuck to stickers and glitter. This unlikely group of crafters made it all the more memorable.
My friend Lindsay, who makes quite a fantastic Christmas card I might add, is a school teacher and was motivated to get her students involved too. The children wrote letters to the troops, decorating them with hand-shaped American flags.
Fostering gratitude is important in younger generations. Tthis type of experience will likely leave an impact on them. As they age, they will hopefully continue to give of themselves to deserving people and causes.
As the holidays draw near, I know not everyone will be home with their loved ones. Some are called to serve abroad and their families are called to carry on at home. Others dedicate their lives to bringing these families comfort and support. All sorts are heroes in my eyes and it is essential we say thanks...