Operation Celebration: Students support deployed Soldiers
Gabby Cabriales, Army spouse, helps her son, Julian, write a thank you note as her husband, W01 George Cabriales, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, helps his daughter, Mia, with her note to be put in a holiday care package for deploy... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 28, 2014) -- Fort Rucker Primary School isn't just a place children go to learn math, science, reading and writing, it's also where children go to learn one of the most important life lessons of all -- giving.

Operation Celebration is a tradition at the primary school where students get together with family members to craft handmade gifts, write cards and start the season of gift giving by showing their support for Soldiers who won't be home for the holidays in the form of a little taste of home in a box.

With the help of Corvias Military Housing and Soldiers from the NCO Academy, children and families were able to create holiday care packages that contained handcrafted angels, candy canes, various sweet treats and thank you notes to be sent to overseas locales, such as Afghanistan and South Korea.

But before getting their hands on various crafts, the children were treated to a special reading by Mrs. Claus of the book the night is based on, "Operation Celebration," in which children in the book send Christmas gifts to deployed parents.

After the reading, children were escorted to different pods to begin the process, and one primary school teacher said that through the crafts and writing, an important lesson was learned.

Rhonda Sullivan, FRPS kindergarten teacher, said it's essential for the children to learn about deployments and separation from family members because it's something they or their classmates will most likely face at some point in their lives, and providing support for those family members is an important part of remaining Army strong.

"The children know that what they do here tonight is going to go to Soldiers and to friends that may not get packages over the holidays, so it's important for them to understand why we're doing this for them," she said. "At some point, they know that this could be their family, so it's a very important lesson.

"The military community is very giving and they teach their children to support, and we have that support group here for those children whose parent's are gone," Sullivan continued. "This year, we have a personal connection because my class has a student whose dad isn't going to be here for the holidays, so this helps support their fellow classmates."

One of the most important lessons to be learned through Operation Celebration is the gift of giving, said one parent.

"Especially around Christmas time, this teaches the children to be able to give and be generous, as opposed to wanting to just receive things," said Capt. Brian Bertoglio, A Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment. "It's a good lesson for them to be able to give to other people."

Bertaglio said it's not just about giving, though, but also the support that they're providing for the deployed Soldiers.

"It's nice to see the local community show support those families who have deployed parents," he said. "Doing things like this is just another way of showing our support for those who can't be here and be with their families throughout the holidays."

Before leaving for the evening, the children were in for a final treat on their way out as teachers handed out candy canes before enjoying a special visit from Santa Claus.

The packages were shipped to their destinations Nov. 21 in hopes that they'll reach the Soldiers in time for the holidays.

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Fort Rucker, Ala.

U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence