The past weekend saw a lot of thankful citizens visiting and decorating headstones in the area’s national cemeteries. Just as important is taking time to thank those who are actively serving around the world today, and several organizations have made that powerful gesture easy to do.
Starbucks’ Military Family Stores are equipped with kits from Operation Gratitude for customers to hand-write a letter of thanks. The kits include papers, pens, markers and a drop box.
Betsy Eves, president of Operation Gratitude, said the organization’s “thank you for your service” campaigns have expanded to include military spouses and children and – because of the pandemic – first-responders.
“We do it through care packages,” Eves said. “We bridge divides and bring grateful Americans together to build those care packages and hand-write the letters that go inside, and then we give them that opportunity to say ‘thank you for your service’ to the military and first-responder community,”
The group also partners with organizations like Blue Star Families.
Eves said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Gratitude assembled up to 20,000 care packages each month, but that was reduced by health precautions.
Several weeks ago, the group was at the Penrose Square Starbucks in Arlington and made 5,000 care packages, which they distributed to service members at Joint Base Myer - Henderson Hall, Eves said. The packages were assembled by employees of Starbucks and the Arlington Police Department.
“It’s bridging that civilian/service divide in a tangible way,” she added. “We encourage the community to write these letters, so Starbucks has letter-writing stations in all of the Starbucks here in the DMV, and they are collection points for us.”
Another opportunity to write your thanks is at the Joint Base Myer - Henderson Hall branch of Armed Forces Bank on McNair Road, which has partnered with A Million Thanks, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the military by sending letters and providing scholarships to military kids.
“Our partnership with A Million Thanks is a natural extension of our long-standing commitment to support the bravery and dedication of our military service members and their families,” said Don Giles, president of Armed Forces Bank.
Shauna Fleming, founder and CEO of A Million Thanks, said the partnership with Armed Forces Bank has helped to expand the program.
“A handwritten letter is a simple but powerful gesture that anyone can do to express his or her appreciation for our military’s courage, sacrifice and dedication,” she said. “The response to the letters is often quite emotional. The letters provide a morale boost, not just to one service member, but often to the entire unit.”