TAMPA, Fla. - A teenager has spent years collecting thousands of items for care packages to send to the men and women serving overseas.
Graci Tubbs, is packing for a very important mission, except she’s not going anywhere. Tubbs’ family and friends help her collect supplies to send to deployed troops.
"It's truly amazing what they do. It's so selfless, and anything that we can do to help them is just truly an opportunity to show your appreciation," Graci Tubbs said.
The project is called ‘Operation Military Matters’.
"It's really important to help the military because obviously they fight for our freedom and we wouldn't be free without them," Graci Tubbs shared. "So, we get to live in this free country and we get to be here today safely packing these care packages because of them and the sacrifices that they make for us."
The 16-year-old started the effort when she was nine years old. She got the idea when a military veteran spoke at her elementary school.
"When we first started sending these care packages, we got notes back saying that they didn't know what they were doing overseas until they received one of these care packages," Graci Tubbs explained.
The boxes are filled with non-perishable items candy, pens, and socks with a personal handwritten letter of gratitude.
"Thank you, no words can express my heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifice that you make to protect our freedom," said Graci Tubbs. "Thank you, for your service to our great country. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I appreciate you more than you will ever know."
The community appreciates it too. More than 50 people show up for the packing parties.
"It's not only impacting the soldiers, it's impacting the community. It's impacting us the volunteers," stated Kadi Tubbs, Graci's Mom. "It's a huge process that just keeps giving and giving and it's just wonderful." Graci Tubbs believes anybody can make a difference with a little effort.
"It's just really fulfilling, knowing that no matter what age, you can make such an impact not only on the military's life but on volunteers and other people's lives from around here. So it's truly awesome," she said.
The project has sent more than 8,000 packages to members of the military with the help of the Bay Area.
LINK: Learn more about Operation Military Matters here.