News Releases

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It takes a village! Operation: Military Matters

Operation: Military Matters volunteers packing care 
packages to send to the military

Recently my daughter Graci (11) and her friend Ava (11) had a packing party for their nonprofit Operation: Military Matters. This is a project the girls started when they were 9 years old. They send care packages to the military overseas. This is the second packing party they have had since they started the project. During the year, they usually send a few packages out a month, but at a packing party they save up donations invite  family and friends and pack a large number of boxes.

39 care packages ready to ship all over the world.
This time they had enough donations for 39 care packages. Since starting they have shipped close to 200 packages all around the world. It's amazing to me to see how two young kids are making a difference in the lives of so many.

Thank you cards!
What is wonderful is they are inspiring other young kids to get involved with helping them by making thank you cards and by helping pack boxes when they have packing parties. The girls had kids from a school all the way down in Miami make cards to put in the care packages.

Friends, family and the community have all helped make this project successful. Because this project has grown from a school project into a nonprofit,  it takes more people and time to make it work. The girls have to collect donations, buy supplies to pack the donations, raise funds for shipping, pack the boxes and ship the boxes.

Clay hearts made for our military.
Donations have come in continuously to fill the boxes and funding to pay to ship the packages has also come in. Each box costs $17.35 to ship, so shipping the 39 boxes was almost $700. It can get costly. We were fortunate to have a grant from Royal Neighbors of America and their Difference Makers Fund along with money from the VFW Post #9272 and money friends and family.

Graci with a certificate and flag flown
in Southwest Asia
in honor of the efforts of Operation:
Military Mattes. 
The girls know how much these boxes are appreciated by our military. Recently the girls received a letter from an Amy Captain serving in Southwest Asia. He wrote how thankful he and his troops were for the support and care packages. He said, "Keep up the great work and know that during deployments, any day that a Soldier gets mail is a great day!" He also sent the girls each a United States flag flown over their patriot missile battery site in honor of the girls support for the soldiers. The girls were so touched by this when they received the letter and flags. It had an impact not only on the girls, but those we have shared the letter with. The letter is to everyone who has helped along the way with this project. 

What can you do? You can write thank you cards to put in the boxes, donate supplies like  toiletry items, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, snacks, hard candy, wipes, games, instant coffee, creamer, romen noodles, beef jerky, tuna or salmon packs, tea gallon zip lock bags, hand lotion, trail mix, socks etc. There is always a need for money to help ship the boxes.
If your service organization would like to contribute, Graci and Ava would be happy to come and speak to your club or if you have a friend or family member you would like a care package sent to, email Graci and Ava at Operation: Military Matters is a 501 (c)3. To find out more about what they do go to their Facebook page at A special thank you to everyone who has helped with this project or plans on helping. It takes a village!

Ava Spano and Graci Tubbs both 11 are the founders of
Operation: Military Maters


Back to school on a budget

Graci and Randi getting back to school supplies.
I can’t believe it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school. As you get your kids ready, you need to make sure your kids have their current physicals, school supplies, and clothes for school. I found a few places that you can go to help you out, so you don’t spend a fortune.

And, don’t forget the tax-free weekend in Florida this year is August 4-6. This is a perfect time for parents to save money on school supplies, clothing, shoes, and other back to school shopping items. You can find all the items tax free at

Mother and couponer Barbi Pierson, likes to look at the ads before going to the store to get the most for her money when shopping for back-to-school supplies. “Couponers get excited for back to school deals," she said. "You want to make sure to get your Sunday newspaper to see the ads and get coupons. If you miss getting the Sunday paper on Sunday, most Dollar Tree stores sell the Sunday paper all week. The best deals are combining and stacking store coupons with manufacturers and topping it with a competitor total off purchase.” 

Pierson added, “Remember to shop the BOGO (buy one get one) free items at Publix. You can even use coupons from competitors at some stores.”

Several stores like Target, that have their own apps for coupons. Target has the app called “Cartwheel” and you can use the coupons they give you and other coupons from the newspaper and printable coupons together for more savings.

Another way to save money is by shopping on the internet. Sites like Ebates give you money back when you shop. All you do is log into their site and shop at your favorite store. They have more than 2,000 stores you can shop at. Right now they are offering a $10 bonus gift card to Walmart or Ebates just for signing up. It will send you a check in the mail every quarter as part of the commission they receive for having you shop on their site. You can comparison shop with newspaper ads and online. 

A great place to go to find the best deals at hundreds of stores online according to Pierson is the site Slickdeals at, where you can find coupons for stores.   

Back to school items at Walmart.
You can also price match at some stores like Walmart, Staples, Target, Office Depot/Office Max. If you find a lower price you can get that price and at Staples if you find a lower price they will match it and lower the price by 10 percent.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you get your child ready for school. Finding deals and saving money doesn’t have to be hard, it can be easy if you know what to look for and how to shop. 

Here’s to starting off the school year right!

Simple ways for you to help raise money for your child’s school

Did you know there are several ways you can raise money for your child’s school just by just shopping and it doesn’t cost you anything? It’s true, as you head to the stores to do back to school shopping here are a few simple ways parents can help schools earn extra income. Some of the ideas are things you may already have at home and could be throwing away, not knowing it’s worth actual money.

Have you seen those small little labels on some of your boxes of food? They are called Box Tops. Since 1996, America schools have earned more than $800 million dollars from Box Tops for Education by collecting those labels. My daughter’s elementary school earned $1,600 cash last year and more than $29,000 over the years.  Schools can receive 10 cents for every box top collected. Start looking at you food boxes more closely and start clipping the box tops. If you don’t save the box tops, it’s like throwing 10 cents out the window.

If you have a printer at your house or your office, start saving the empty ink cartridges. Did you know that every “used” ink cartridge is worth at least $2? You can recycle up to 10 ink cartridges each month. Not only are you raising money for your child’s school, but you are also recycling. You can recycle the ink cartridges locally at any Staples or Office Depot Office Max. There’s also another great way to make your school money by using Funding Factory. This is a way for your school to collect recyclable empty printer cartridges for money. You can register at Since 1997, organizations have raised more than $35 million in cash and rewards.

Office Depot Office Max also offers a program called Give Back to Schools, where 5% of your qualifying purchases can go back in free school supplies to the school of your choice. It’s very easy, all you need to do is sign up.

Do you shop on Amazon? If you do, start shopping on, it’s the same as shopping at Amazon, but a percentage of what you spend can go to your child’s school. It’s not a huge amount it’s actually 0.5 percent, but it can add up. More than $54 million has been given to charities over the years. If your school is not registered, let them know so they can register. This is an easy way to raise money.

How many of you use the computer to look up things? I know I do. I discovered by using as your search engine, you can raise money for your school. It’s simple and easy to do. Every search you do, will donate a percentage of your purchases to your school.

It’s great to see businesses willing to help our schools, but we as parents need to make sure we are doing our part by participating. It only takes a minute to clip a box top, cut a label or charge our search engine on our computer. If each family helps we can make a difference in our children’s education.