As our organization matures, so do our volunteers! We often hear from our team that they first volunteered with us as children, and now many are grown and bringing Operation Gratitude to the new generation of generous givers! One such volunteer is Kiara Coronado.
“I first found out about Operation Gratitude when I co-founded the GenerationOn Club at North Hollywood High School. We focused our efforts on volunteer work. When I found out about Operation Gratitude, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to those heroes who sacrifice so much for us,” said Coronado. “A small group of us volunteered to help with the care packages soon after. We felt honored to help out in any way we can.”
All grown up, Coronado now works as a Transitional Kindergarten teacher at Holy Family School in South Pasadena. As part of the nationwide Catholic School Weeks in February, a day was dedicated to Celebrating the Nation.
“I thought that Operation Gratitude was the perfect way to both celebrate the nation and teach all of our students about the importance of service and volunteer work, as I’d been taught during my elementary days,” Coronado said.
Coronado brought the idea of supporting Operation Gratitude to Holy Family School Principal Jennifer Garzia. The school had participated in service projects with Operation Gratitude several years ago, and she was excited to renew the partnership! Ms. Garzia decided to organize a collection drive to provide much needed Care Package items to military and first responders. More than 300 students participated from Transitional Kindergarten to 8th grade. Together, they collected approximately 500 items, including protein snacks, leisure items, drink mixes and hygiene wipes. Students also created 120 handwritten letters of gratitude to military and first responders.
“The students are the real star of the show here. This was definitely not something that I did on my own, but I was more than happy to reintroduce the school to this wonderful organization and its mission,” said Coronado. “I hope that this is just the start of a tradition for my school so that we can continue to give back to our nation.”