Trinity Lutheran Church seeks donations for Operation Gratitude

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

While working to revitalize the Senior High Youth Group, “E.D.G.E.” at Trinity Lutheran Church after seeing a decline in numbers of youth attending due to long COVID closures, Jayann Andrews was inspired to find service projects for the youth to participate in. “I feel like kids are really getting separated from their faith and I feel like a big part of faith is serving others so we’re really working hard to find ways where they can serve others but still have fun and I really hope that helps draw them back to their faith and their community,” Andrews says. 

In October, the group joined the Lions Club in decorating Smith Park for the holidays. For November, Andrews was inspired to find a project having to do with the Military in honor of Veteran’s Day. “I was reading Guidepost magazine and they had some ideas on how to serve and express your gratitude, and one of the ideas in there was Operation Gratitude. I thought that sounded like a pretty cool idea,” she says. 

Operation Gratitude  is  one of the largest and most impactful nonprofits in the country  for  hands-on volunteerism in support of military, veterans, and first responders.

Operation Gratitude is one of the largest nonprofits of its kind, offering hands-on volunteerism that supports members of the Military, Veterans, and First Responders.  The organization began in March of 2003 when the first four care packages were sent to deployed service members in Iraq. Since then, the organization has sent care packages to over 3.3 million deployed troops, Veterans, recruit graduates, Military families, First Responders, and healthcare workers. “It all just stemmed from this lady sitting in an airport and a military person just broke down and she just saw the need so she ran with it. It’s really cool, I think,” said Andrews.

From now through 12:30 p.m. on November 10th, Trinity Lutheran Church will be accepting donations of items off the Operation Gratitude list for the E.D.G.E. Youth Group to package the care packages. “We could use financial donations too because we have to pay to ship all of these care packages,” Andrews says.  Items on the list include protein snacks in single-serving sizes such as salty snacks, trail mix, beef jerky; drink mixes such as individual on-the-go packets; hygiene wipes; leisure items such as puzzle books, crossword puzzles, word search, sudoku; and handwritten letters. All food items must have a best-by date longer than six months from now, and no pork food items can be sent. Additionally, no glass packaging or aerosol items can be sent. All items must be new and sealed in the original packaging. All items, including donation checks written to Trinity Church, can be dropped off in the church office between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. 

On November 10th, the E.D.G.E Youth Group will convene to package the care packages. “We’ll get together, have some snacks, write letters and sort through everything and pack it up,” says Andrews. “We have to sort through everything and count up what we have to submit a donation form to Operation Gratitude. They then send barcodes and we ship it all off. They distribute it not just to the Military but to First Responders too. Wherever they see the need.” Anyone looking for more information can find it on the Trinity Lutheran Church Facebook page

In December, the youth group will work to ring bells for the Salvation Army. Andrews hopes that the activities planned will help entice more kids to join the youth group.