Operation Gratitude: Giving Back to American Heroes 

Sevasti Silvia, Editor

On Saturday, Nov. 6, just in time for Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, CAC’s Honors Society Phi Theta Kappa will be writing and collecting letters for military and first responder personnel. The volunteer event will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Dessert Queen (inside Froyona), a frozen yogurt shop in San Tan Valley.  

Phi Theta Kappa, also known as PTK, encourages CAC students, faculty, staff, and community members to drop in at any time from 4-7 p.m. All the supplies needed to write a letter will be provided.  

If you cannot make it to the event, PTK has a virtual form for people who still want to participate. Anyone can fill out the form, and a volunteer will write out the message on a card. 

After the cards are written and collected, they will be given to the nonprofit organization Operation Gratitude. The organization will create care packages with the letters. The packages are sent not only to active servicemembers, but also to veterans, first responders, military families, and military caregivers. According to Operation Gratitude’s website, each care package contains letters, snacks, hygienic items, and leisure items like puzzle books. 

Not sure what to write? PTK advisor and CAC English and Literature professor Heather Moulton said, “We ask people to write positive and appreciative messages. We also encourage making the letters personal, so the troops know each letter comes from a real person. For example, including that we teach or attend college or have military family members makes the cards less generic.” Operation Gratitude’s website also provides suggestions for what to include in a letter. 

 This year is only the second year PTK will host the Operation Gratitude event. However, the honors society hopes to make the event annual.  

The event began in 2020 when, according to Moulton, PTK members brainstormed ideas for volunteer events. “Phi Theta Kappa is an organization that values and encourages service to the local community. Each semester, we ask for suggestions for local volunteer opportunities. Some members suggested we send letters to troops.” Thus, the honors society partnered with CAC alum Jaqueline Thao Nguyen to hold a letter-writing event at Nguyen’s frozen yogurt shop, Dessert Queen. 

The head PTK advisor and CAC Communication Studies professor Dr. Sandra Rath said, “We love to have people participate, and this is an event that can relate to everyone. It’s always nice to give back in some way, and this is a nice easy way to give back.” 

Interested in supporting servicemembers and first responders? If so, go write a letter and grab a cup of frozen yogurt on Nov. 6 from 4-7 p.m. at Dessert Queen in San Tan Valley. Or, treat yourself to a refreshment from your freezer and fill out the virtual form. 

For more information about Phi Theta Kappa, email Dr. Sandra Rath at sandra.rath@centralaz.edu 

Want to donate, or learn more about the Operation Gratitude organization? Visit their website