Students send gifts to deployed Soldiers
November 27, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 27, 2013) -- Operation Celebration is an ongoing tradition each holiday season at Fort Rucker Primary School where students make handmade gifts and cards and send them to deployed Soldiers, and with the program growing in size each year the decision was made to get Families involved for 2013.
Recognizing that many Soldiers do not get to spend the holidays at home with their loved ones, students put some holiday cheer in a box to lessen the holiday blues that some deployed Soldiers may feel, including four parents of current students who cannot get leave for the holidays, said Sylvia Thornton, organizer of the event.
"We wanted to get our entire school community involved this year," she said. "Making it a Family event has made it possible where the parents can create ornaments and gifts with their children and help their child understand the benefits of giving."
The program begins each season with the reading of the book "Operation Celebration," where the children in the book send Christmas favors, cards and gifts to overseas parents. This year, Justin O. Mitchell, deputy garrison commander, read the book at an assembly attended by more than 500 students, siblings and parents Nov. 19.
"I think it is really important for the children to realize how much the installation appreciates their parents for being Soldiers and sacrificing their time, effort and energy, and all the holidays and celebrations they spend apart," said Mitchell.
Operation Celebration serves as a service learning project for the children that teaches them that Christmas isn't just about getting gifts, said Thornton.
"It's great to do it as a Family because the children can really see that they are doing something for someone else who cannot be here with their own Family at Christmas time. It makes them appreciate a little more that their Family is together this time of year," she said.
The children, who seemed quite excited about the project, wore smiles as they glued, colored and glittered their many crafts with their siblings and parents.
The students and parents made enough favors for more than 40 Soldiers, which will be sent out to the units of the four parents that have children at FRPS.
This year they made cards, a variety of ornaments, feather angels, wreaths and poppers with secret notes inside, said Thornton.
"We want to make sure we do something nice for Soldiers overseas to let them know that there are many people thinking about them, and we remember them especially during the holidays," she said. "It is also important for us to show, not just tell, children that giving is better than receiving, and doing something special for someone else is what Christmas is all about."
There will be five packages sent out this year destined for Afghanistan, Korea and Kuwait.
One box is heading to Georgia, where one Soldier and father is recovering from his injuries incurred in Afghanistan in September.
"My dad has been gone over 14 months, but I feel good that we can help other Soldiers for Christmas that do not get to come home," said Aaron Miller, first grader. "He is still in the hospital right now, but we hope he will be home for Christmas. I miss playing Lego's with him."
Aaron's father, CW4 Andy Miller, was deployed last October and was slated to redeploy home when he was injured on a mission. He is now recovering at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.
"The children miss the love and attention they received from their dad. They are all ready for him to come home. I know Aaron misses the guy talk," said Lori Miller, Aaron's mother. "He has missed two Christmas before, so we don't want to make it three with how old our children are. They are at the age where Christmas is its most magical."
The boxes will be sent off in the next two weeks so Soldiers will receive them by Christmas.