In November, as we pause to observe Veterans Day and to thank our service men and women for their sacrifice, Volunteer Fairfax would like to share an important story that reveals how a small act, from small people, can mean so very much to those who have given so much.

Waples Mills Elementary School has been a strong partner in volunteerism of Volunteer’s Fairfax for many years. Waples Mills families and staff have actively and generously supported volunteer events of Volunteer Fairfax and so we were happy to accept their invitation to participate in a Waples Mills Multicultural Night. Our job was to host the Operation Gratitude table where kids and parents were invited to compose cards to thank USA military personnel for their service.

Throughout Multicultural Night, the letter writing station was busy with young artists and writers sharing messages of encouragement, jokes, and stories of family members who have served. At the end of the evening, dozens of cards were ready to be sent to Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines through Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude is a California-based organization. They have sent nearly 2 million care packages to Deployed US Troops, Veterans, Wounded Heroes, First Responders and more. Packages are filled with letters and cards, candy and food, and entertainment and hygiene items. Their mission is to “say Thank You to all who serve.”


The day after the Waples Mills event, Angela Starling strolled into the local post office, arms filled with the colorful cards, seeking a box in which to mail them to Operation Gratitude. Joining the queue, she immediately noticed that in front of her was a man in fatigues, a soldier. She tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around. Seeing the cards she was carrying, he said, “I know what those are…”

“Kevin” shared that he was here in Virginia with Wounded Warriors. When he was deployed, his troop received cards and letters like these. He said, “They really meant a lot!” “And,” he added in a whispered confession, “I pinched a couple of them that I really liked.”

What an amazing coincidence it was that day in the Fairfax Post Office that Angela would run smack-dab into a soldier… a soldier just like the ones she was mailing her armload of cards to. The cards received by Kevin and his troop mates were created by school children just like those at Waples Mills Elementary. Good job, Waples Mills! Kevin, Wounded Warrior, has confirmed that your small act of gratitude truly does mean so much.

Waples Mills kids


Waples Mills Female Student

You, your family, your class, school, team, club, or organization can help Operation Gratitude thank all those who serve. For information about the many ways you can show your gratitude to veterans this November, and throughout the year, go to For other youth volunteer opportunities, visit Volunteer Fairfax Just for Youth page.