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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Service Projects Teach Kids to Give Back to the Community

Students using their free time to help others. It's not something you hear about every day, especially in today's society. So when my fourth grader, Graci told me she  wanted to help the military, as part of her gifted class service project, I was very impressed.

As I read the note sent home by her teacher, I found out her school wasn't the only school doing this, but all of Pinellas County's gifted students were being encouraged to participate in some type of service project of their choice.

I was interested in finding out what some of the other projects were. Graci told me students in her class are doing all sorts of fantastic service projects like collecting food donations for SPCA, a beach cleanup, serving food to the homeless and collecting books for All Children's Hospital.

Graci told me she wanted to do something for the active military because, "They are doing so much for us, I want to do something for them." Graci has grown up with family members in and retired from the military, so she knows the sacrifices they make.

It didn't take Graci and her Papa, a retired Army colonel, long to come up with the slogan Operation: Military Matters. Graci has another friend in her class, Ava working on this project with her. They have been busy planning their project, making videos and asking me to post them to social media, flyers and lots of handwritten greeting cards for the soldiers. 

Graci asked her uncle Steve, who had served two tours in Iraq, what kind items he liked receiving in care packages while he was there. He gave her a few ideas and Graci and Ava came up with a few of their own. The items include: handwritten cards, playing cards, Nerf guns, tube socks, shampoos and conditioners, toothbrushes and toothpaste, fun things to do, games, notebooks and money to send the care packages overseas.

Already the girls have collected toiletry items, about 100 handwritten cards and cash donations. Some of the cards were from students at their school. Graci was reading them to me and they are so sweet and thoughtful.  I know the soldiers will love receiving them.

It's Graci's birthday this month and she is asking for donations to the military from friends and family. Her grandparents recently gave her money for her birthday to put toward buying items for the military.

Graci and Ava plan on collecting items until February 7. As they receive items, they will send them to different military units. The girls have set up several collection boxes including a box at Seminole City Hall, Faith Community Church in Seminole and Hendricks Enterprises in Pinellas Park. The girls were so excited to have Seminole's Mayor Leslie Waters helping support their cause.

The girls have an email for questions and to receive names from the community of active men and women serving overseas to send care packages to. You can email Operation: Military Matters at You can also check out the Facebook Page. You can also donate money on their GoFundMe site. 

I think so many times we hear all the bad things kids do and not the good things. These projects are building a more positive image and helping students put their energies toward making their community a better place.

It's nice to see the "me" generation doing things for others.

*Drop Off Locations

Seminole City Hall
9199 113th St., Seminole, FL
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F

Hendricks Enterprises
(Inside Belcher Park Apts.)
7800 Belcher Road S., Suite 114, South Pasadena, FL
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F

Faith Community Church
11501 Walker Ave., Seminole, FL
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F


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