Our son is 4 years old and we’ve decided to take the plunge into the homeschooling world. The past 2 years we’ve slowly transitioned into homeschooling so it won’t be a huge change for him when we hit it full-time come kindergarten. Last spring my husband and I sat down and brainstormed what we want to get out of his education. One main thing we wanted to incorporate was volunteer time, helping others and service projects.

So far he’s volunteered a couple times but we decided to start our first very own service project. The military holds a very dear place in our heart. We have very close family and friends who are in various branches and have seen up close the sacrifices they make as well as their families. One morning I just asked Gibson how he felt about maybe raising some money for our cousin who is currently deployed. We discussed that he is helping protect us and keep us safe and in doing so he and his family will be separated for Christmas. We talked about with the money we raised we could then go shopping to buy them stuff that would make them happy and send it to him and he could share it with his soldier buddies. He loved the idea and as soon as we got home we filmed this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHsOtrkj9vw

It’s true. We used our son’s cute-ness to help raise some funds and we don’t apologize :). My hope was that we could raise a couple hundred dollars and send him a few boxes blessing a handful of soldiers. Well lets just say my expectations were exceeded!

I shared the video on mine and my husbands facebook page, made a facebook group and people started sharing the video and inviting others to join the group! We got some checks in the mail and since I was far along in my pregnancy and it was a wild 4 year old doing the project we decided as the money came in to shop and ship it out that way I wouldn’t be overwhelmed buying so much at once and carrying too many boxes into the post office.

ShoppingYes he wanted to do the self-checkout!  Stuffing some boxes

The first time we went to the post office we noticed a truck with an attached trailer that said “Operation Troop Aid.” We’d never been involved with the organization but were familiar with it because we had a couple friends who had done work with them. We carried in our first box and I explained to Gibson (as he held his small box :) ) that the big boxes taking up half the post office, were also going to soldiers. As Gibson was putting flag stickers to decorate the box the man from Operation Troop Aid noticed him and the address caught his eye. He ended up picking up the shipping for our first box! We felt immensely blessed and it was great for Gibson to see someone who was doing what he was doing but on a much bigger scale, what an inspiration!

Big scale...small scale...it all counts! OTA paying shipping for our first box Operation Troop Aid

The money, cards and donations in goods kept rolling in. Then the no-longer-stranger from the post office writes in our facebook group “Gibson, Troop Aid is reporting for duty… I’d like to donate $5000 in product to your cause and Troop Aid will pay for the shipping also.. You just let me know where and when buddy… OORAH!!” WHAT?!?!?!?! Yep. Looks like we had a bag and box stuffing event to plan! We called on our friends to come volunteer their time to help and man did they show up (even some of the local homeschooling football team, Tennessee Heat)! We actually had so many show up that we were done before the second shift of helpers even arrived! And did I mention that OTA donated even more than $5000!

Stuffing the bags VOLUNTEERS!Boxes to be shipped!

After that, we still had personal donations from friends and family coming in and we sent out more boxes. We were even able to bless another, new group of soldiers with individual care packages as our last send out!

Organizing Care PackagesBlessing a new groupEach box was hand decorated!

During this project our 4 year old raised over $845 plus had a large amount of toiletries, treats, and entertainment items donated! Over 180 cards and letters were handmade or decorated for deployed soldiers! And we sent a total of 13 boxes! None of this includes the HUGE amount donated by Operation Troop Aid (including the time of friends who volunteered their time to stuff and ship out the boxes/bags). If you total everything up Gibson raised nearly (possibly over) $10,000 worth of goodies shipped to deployed soldiers!!! Our family was in awe and incredibly humbled by how blessed we are to have such amazing friends and family in our lives.

Reading a "Soldiers Night Before Christmas"We heard the soldiers loved the cardsExcited about the success of his project!

Now we all we can think is…gonna be hard to top this project!