News Releases

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Small girls making a big difference

Graci and Ava at one of their
donation sites
Seminole City Hall
For the past eleven months, my youngest daughter Graci and her friend Ava have been collecting shampoo, soap, socks, snacks, games and other items to send in care packages to the  military overseas. It started out as a school project last November after a Veterans Day Ceremony at their school. Graci and Ava said they wanted to give back to the military who are giving their lives for our freedom. They named their project Operation: Military Matters.

I thought after they received their grade for the project it would fizzle out, but the opposite has happened. Their school project has become a community project and it's growing.

Graci and Ava at the Armed Forces
History Museum
This past summer, Graci and Ava spent several Saturdays taking part in events hosted by the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo. They set up a table with information about Operation: Military Matters and asked people to make thank you cards, so they could send them in the care packages. 

Graci at the Indian Rocks Beach Rotary
During the summer, Graci also spoke at her grandpa's Rotary Club of Indian Rocks Beach telling them about the project and getting support from them. One member of the club graciously donated more than 60 new board games from his company.

Grant from Royal Neighbors of America
Difference Maker Campaign
 They also received their first grant of $200 from Royal Neighbors of America's  Difference Makers Fund. This money is being used to help cover shipping, as each box they send costs around $16.75.

The two girls also visited the Mayor of Seminole, Leslie Waters and the city council to give them an update on their project. The Mayor has helped them since the beginning by allowing them to have a collection site for items at Seminole City Hall.
Graci and Ava with Mayor Leslie Waters
and Vice Mayor Jim Quinn

Since school started back up again, Graci and Ava are working on getting their whole school involved in collecting items and making thank you cards for the care packages. They also will be taking part in the school's Veterans Day Celebration to help raise more awareness about their project so they can send more care packages.

Ava and Graci making hearts
for the Military
The girls are also partnering with the Answered Prayers Project in St. Petersburg and making ceramic hearts to send to our servicemen and women.

Dr. Jackson donating
The community has been wonderful in helping make this project take off. Just this past week the girls received several hundred toothbrushes and toothpaste to send from a dentist office and orthodontist. 
Friends have saved their hotel shampoos and conditioners for the care packages.

One lady who the girls met at the beginning of their project, Joan
Graci with Joan Windis
donating hats and toiletries
Windis, has been donating items on a regular basis and making beautiful handmade hats for the military, which according to the military personnel overseas they love! Several soldiers have written to the girls telling them how much they appreciated the care packages.

Graci with Adrienne Busch
donating toothbrushes

What's impressing to me is the impact these 10 years old girls are making on others around them. They letting our military know people care about them by sending packages to them, but they are also reminding those of us back home that there are people fighting for our freedom.  In a world with so much negative news, it's refreshing to see people making a positive difference.
Ava and Graci with
shipping boxes

If you know someone overseas who Operation: Military Matters can send a package to email If you would like to learn more about Operation: Military Matters go to our Facebook Page  or to donate on our GoFundMe Page.

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