West Side Students Show Their Appreciation With Operation Gratitude


The last few weeks, first and third graders at West Side Elementary have been collecting items for Operation Gratitude as part of a school-wide effort to support active soldiers, their families, and veterans. Second graders have adopted a troop, while the other two grades have been collecting small toiletry items such as toothpaste, shaving cream, chap stick, foot powder, and other items including notebooks, pens, gum, and socks.

The project was presented last month during an October staff meeting. Third grade teachers had been brainstorming about service projects for their students, and how to impress upon them the importance of making a difference in the lives of others.

“This was a great time to talk about servicemen and women because we were also discussing the election, government, and Veterans Day. It’s important for students to comprehend the sacrifices made for our freedoms, and that deployed soldiers can’t always just go out and get what they need,’ said third grade teacher Jenny Baker, who had been involved with Operation Gratitude previously through the MonDak Heritage Center.

Operation Gratitude was formed in California in 2003 and the nation-wide movement has shipped more than 1,600,000 care packages over the last 13 years. The non-profit organization works with wounded warriors, deployed soldiers and their families, incoming troops, and veterans. They also have a branch designated to first responder support.

Each student’s family can contribute what they feel led to give, however every student is required to make a card or letter to include with the 5 – 6 care packages that will be mailed. Friday, Nov. 18th West Side’s Operation Gratitude will be wrapping up with shipping costs generously being donated by the local Lions Club.

“It’s cool to see the kids get excited about this. Their letters reflect their appreciation and understanding for what our servicemen and women do for our country,” Baker added.


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