Davenport parish makes cards for troops overseas



Children at St. Alphonsus Early Childhood Education Center in Davenport make cards for military personnel as part of Operation Gratitude.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Having a husband deployed in the military and away from home, Rita Wacker knew how people serving in the military loved to receive mail and packages. Although her husband is retired, Wacker wanted to reach out to military personnel through a project called Operation Gratitude.

“We don’t have a food bank or clothing store but we want to help others. We try to pool our resources together to help others. This is another way to help people,” said Wacker, a member of St. Alphonsus Parish. She created a flyer for the parish explaining how Operation Gratitude bundles letters from Americans who want to thank troops, veterans, new recruits, wounded warriors and their caregivers for their service to their country.

Operation Gratitude created guidelines for the cards. The suggested salutations are “Dear Hero” or “Dear Brave One.” Writers may express their thanks but should avoid references to politics and excessive references to religion. They may share information about themselves and talk about life and their interests but should not include a date or year in the card or letter. Adults are encouraged to include their contact information. Children should include first names only and no addresses. Operation Gratitude does not want glitter or confetti on the letters or cards.


St. Alphonsus parishioners were encouraged to return completed cards and letters last month so that Wacker could mail them to Operation Gratitude — one batch for troops overseas and one for the wounded warriors. Operation Gratitude sorts through packages to make sure card makers and letter writers followed the rules and then bundles the cards and letters for shipment.

Response to the project exceeded Wacker’s expectations. Card makers and letter writers included Altar & Rosary Society members, other parishioners, St. Alphonsus Early Childhood Center students, the parish’s religious education students and Fillmore Elementary students. “I didn’t think so many kids would send in cards. I was glad to see all these.”

Troops typically receive more mail during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the year, they wait eagerly to hear their names called to receive a letter or package, Wacker said. She chose this time of year for two reasons. First, the deadline preceded the parish’s Lenten fish fries, which is a busy time for volunteers. Second, she had an early March deadline to ship the cards and letters to Operation Gratitude in time for troops to receive them for Armed Forces Day in May.

“I’ve never done this before and was surprised at the response. It’s a small thing to do, but it will make a big difference in someone’s life,” Wacker said.

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