STCPS Thanks Veterans Through Operation Gratitude

This year, to thank the military and celebrate Veteran’s Day, Saint Columbkille Partnership School will be participating in a candy drive for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit dedicated to sending care packages to military service members overseas. Honoring the active and retired military service members in the Saint Columbkille community, both current families and alumni, is an important way to give back and show the school’s appreciation. 

Ali Del’Romero-Hughes, mother of a STCPS preschool student, has spearheaded the effort. She received candy when she was serving in the Marine Corps and understands firsthand how much joy a care package brings when you’re away from home and family.

“Writing letters, thank you cards and giving candy all may seem like trivial gestures, but to a service member on the receiving end, there is an immense impact,” says Del’Romero-Hughes. “It is a morale booster that reassures what that service member is fighting for, as well as combats loneliness and homesickness.”

For Del’Romero-Hughes, “it is important to get the school and students involved because we live in an era of instant gratification focused on individuals, rather than the community as a whole. Operation Gratitude encourages empathy, selflessness and a sense of community. It helps teach children to show appreciation to those who put everything on the line for us.”

From November 4 to November 7, Saint Columbkille will be collecting leftover Halloween candy to send to Operation Gratitude to include in future care packages. A dedicated team of families and the STCPS Student Council has organized the candy drive and are also encouraging students to make thank-you cards for the troops.

To celebrate the culmination of the candy drive, the school will host a Spirit Day on Friday, October 25 for students to dress out of uniform and give monetary donations to be used for postage to ship the candy to Operation Gratitude. Brighton Marine Health Center has generously partnered with STCPS to help cover the cost of postage.

“This is a season of gratitude,” says Kate Ward, Director of Institutional Advancement. “We’re showing our students and their families that we can make a difference in the lives of the military who serve. Our donations have an impact on service members overseas and their families back home.”

On Friday, November 8, a large American flag, provided by a generous donor, will be hung in front of the school to honor and thank our nation’s veterans in advance of Veteran’s Day on Monday, November 11. A flag ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m. on November 8 to hoist and bless the flag with current and retired military service members. Grades 4 through 8 will participate in the ceremony, and parents and alumni are welcome to attend.

To participate in the candy drive, please bring leftover Halloween candy to school and place it in the bins outside of the main office. Help is needed to sort and box up the candy and cards. Please click here to sign up to volunteer. Please contact Ali Del’Romero-Hughes at alexandria.del’ with any questions.

Thank you to the following parents who are on the Operation Gratitude Committee:

  • Ali Del’Romero-Hughes
  • Kelly Hilton
  • Ali Looney
  • Elizabeth Lewis
  • Melissa Mendez

About Operation Gratitude
Demonstrating that actions speak louder than words, Operation Gratitude is a national nonprofit organization that provides tangible ways to forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. Through its customized Care Package programs, Operation Gratitude has provided opportunities for millions of Americans to say “Thank You” to more than 2.3 million of our nation’s Heroes since 2003. In 2019, Operation Gratitude launched its Make Every Minute Count Campaign with the goal of delivering 525,600 Care Packages – one every minute of the year – to Service Members, their families at home, Veterans, and First Responders. Awarded a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator and a Platinum rating from Guidestar, 94 percent of Operation Gratitude’s expenditures go directly to programs that support our nation’s men and women in uniform at home and abroad. To learn more, visit