Just in time for the upcoming holiday, the Saint Leo community was giving thanks. On Nov. 11, the Office of Community Engagement put on “Operation Gratitude” for Community Service Day, which involved making paracord bracelets to be placed in care packages which are sent to U.S. soldiers. The choice in community service was apt since the day coincided with Veteran’s Day.
Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization that sends over 150,000 care packages each year to new recruits, veterans, first responders, wounded warriors, caregivers and to individually named U.S. Service members that are deployed overseas. According to the organization’s website, their mission is to “lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our Military.” Each care package contains snacks, personal items, handcrafted items, entertainment, and personal letters of appreciation.
Paracord bracelets were first placed in the First Responder kits and were one of the most important items that were included. They are not only a great accessory, but they also prove useful in emergency situations. These items could be a source of relief or convenience when the First Responders are out in the field. The bracelet got its name from parachute cord and can hold up to 550 pounds of weight while giving its user 7.5 feet of cord to use in an emergency. The quick deploy style of this bracelet takes only 30 seconds to unravel and can be used as sewing thread and fishing lines, to secure camouflage nets, make slings and splints, or even create harnesses.
The bracelets not only serve a functional purpose but have a deeper meaning for its wearers. They are one of the few exceptions to the uniform code and can provide a feeling of hope and appreciation for U.S. Army members. They are included in a custom-designed black pouch with items such as energy shots, protein bars, lip balm, anti-bacterial gel, pens, and pencils.
The event was held on the SAB Green in front of Kirk, where a tent with tables underneath was set up. The event saw visitors throughout the day ranging from members of Greek life and other students to faculty. Hard work was encouraged by the gifts that were available for completing bracelets. For every bracelet that was turned in, there was an opportunity to get a Saint Leo gear such as hats, water bottles, back packs, lunch bags, and T-shirts.
Cynnique Johnson, a sophomore biology major, said, “I really enjoyed making the bracelets; it was very relaxing, and a good opportunity to socialize. I also liked that we got a reward for the work in the end. I got a really cool hat.”
The event had a great turnout overall. Hundreds of bracelets were made, and students got an opportunity to socialize and gain community service hours. Through their efforts, the Saint Leo community proved that there is no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by giving thanks to those who have earned it.