Students volunteer at Operation Gratitude to support soldiers

Jesse Nadel

In a warehouse packed with more than 300 volunteers, Alex Deronde ’17 grabbed a handful of 5-hour ENERGY bottles and stuffed them into a partially filled care package to which volunteers added sanitizing wipes and Halloween candy before shipping the boxes to a deployed soldier halfway across the world.

“It felt really good to volunteer because I knew that I was helping someone just by placing items into a box. It was nice to give back to people who do so much to protect us,” Deronde said.

In anticipation of upcoming Veterans Day, 78 students went to Operation Gratitude’s Assembly Day Nov. 8 to support the nation’s troops and give back to the community as part of the Harvard-Westlake Family Community Service Day.

“We thought that the fall date was a very nice correlation with Veterans Day.  Our service men and women really do follow our Harvard-Westlake mission statement– ‘a purpose beyond ourselves.’ It was nice to mirror that statement today and remember them at this special time of year,” Co-Chair for the Harvard Westlake Parent Association’s Community Service Leah Houska said.

The participants wrote letters of appreciation to service members and assembled boxes of supplies including magazines and energy bars for members of the military.

Houska said that the volunteers who were part of the Harvard-Westlake team helped to fulfill Operation Gratitude’s goal to “lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities.”

“Many of the Operation Gratitude staff complimented our students and families for their assistance and that made me proud of our school and our students that attend Harvard-Westlake,” Houska said.