JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 200 volunteers from CSX and around the city teamed up Saturday with Operation Gratitude to provide care packages to deployed troops.
They spent the morning at 121 Financial Ballpark, where the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp play, and created a one-of-a-kind assembly line.
The 10,000 care packages they built will now be shipped out over the next several days to military members serving overseas, including with Carrier Strike Group 10.
Volunteer Sheriee Bowman said her father served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
“He was a disabled veteran, so growing up with him and all the veterans that were friends of him, I understood the sacrifices they made,” Bowman said. “This is just something that I feel I could do.”
All of the items for the care packages were taken from their original boxes and put into boxes to form an assembly line.
The volunteers assembled the care packages with items like shampoo, lip balm and wipes. But each package also included a letter from someone thanking them for their service.
“When they open this care package and they see a letter from a grateful American, someone that doesn’t even know them just sent them this gift, and it says, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing, that you’re putting your life in harm’s way for me,’” said James Johnson, Operation Gratitude’s CEO.
Johnson rang a bell every time 1,000 packages were completed Saturday.
With people of all ages participating, Bryan Tucker, vice president of Corporate Communications with CSX, said it was a chance to recruit the next generation of helpers.
“Today is all about celebrating service,” Tucker said. “That’s something that’s really important for us here at CSX, but it’s also important to show the young people what service is all about and why it’s important to our country and our communities.”
Bowman said if this inspires one person to give back, that’s a victory for us all.
“Find something that resonates with you and just do it,” Bowman said. “If you’ve got a company like CSX that helps support this kind of thing, I think that’s great.”