Military Appreciation Day 2017

For this spring’s Middle School Project Serve Day, wanted to try something different. We took a day to thank those who serve and protect our country by writing letters and creating care packages that we sent to a group serving overseas in the United Arab Emirates. 

The Middle School students heard from SM Sgt Michael Ross in the Air Force and SSgt David Hernandez in the Marines, and had a chance to experience some of the exercises and drills that the Marines go through. Students all contributed funds so they could go to Super Target to shop for things that will fill a care package, including handmade paracord bracelets. Our desire was for the students to gain a greater appreciation for what the military does and know how to best thank and serve them back.

Last Thursday during chapel, I spoke to the students about what makes a gift a great gift:

  1. A great gift is one that shows love and thought put into it.
  2. A great gift is one that is given out of joy.
  3. A great gift – like love – often costs us something; whether it be money, time, a talent or skill used.

Jesus gave us the greatest gift of all – His life as payment for our sins. He loved and thought of us even as he prayed before going to the cross (John 17), He looked to the joy the cross would bring us and saw it as worth the cost for our salvation (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Project Serve is all about us stepping outside of ourselves and meeting the needs of others with love that overflows from the love Jesus has given us. When our Middle School Student Council President Emma Lombardo first came up with the idea of showing appreciation for the military, I got so excited because here was an opportunity to shower people who serve us with great gifts. Our aim is to bring joy and encouragement to them while they are away from home.

So I challenged the students to bring a minimum of $10 each on Monday to help pay for the stuff that will go inside the care packages and to ship it. Each care package costs $100 to fill and ship overseas. To send a large care package overseas to the military costs $17.35. The Middle School Student Council’s budget is covering $2.35 for every box, leaving $15 left to be covered by donations brought in Monday. In order to fill it with a majority of the things on the wish list from the overseas troop, it costs about $85 per box.

If every middle schooler brought at least $10, we would almost have $1500 raised, enough to fill and ship 15 boxes. What if, when the troop went to retrieve our shipment, they saw twice the amount of boxes they expected? What kind of great gifts are we capable of with God’s help? This was the challenge given to the students.

On Monday, April 24, the middle school raised enough to produce  35 care packages! I had said that if everyone brought in an average of $10 each, we could have enough to send 15 care packages, and I had challenged them to do twice as many and see if we could surprise the military with the joy of 30 care packages. Apparently God wanted to surprise me with joy too. Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” It was amazing to see this lived out in the community here at school as cheerful gifts were given today.

When Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Jones, her son and I loaded up the cars with 35 boxes (with the help of the MS track team!) and stood in line at the post office, we definitely got quite a few stares and questions. When people learned what we were doing, stories were shared with us about their loved ones that they have or had in the military overseas. One woman mentioned how her husband was once so touched by a care package he and his group got from strangers while he was deployed. She said it made all the difference, and really boosted the morale and attitudes of the entire group when they received those care packages.

We had a day full of activities with our military guests, the drills with the Marines, an obstacle course, target practice with nerf guns and a team building exercise. Monday was a wonderful gift, and I hope the students enjoyed it as much as I did.

 Written by Becky Welander, Middle School Bible Teacher