Key Club gathers candy for deployed troops

Taegan Jacobs, Features Editor

Halloween ended a few days ago and enthusiasts across the nation who celebrated with scary movies, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and maybe the most popular, consuming generous amounts of candy, are slowly putting the decorations away. But celebrating may not be over for some; specifically, for troops deployed overseas, where celebrating might not come easy.

Bellevue West’s Key Club is working with Operation Gratitude to bring some of the nation’s Halloween Spirit to these deployed troops.  

“Operation Gratitude is basically a program where schools come together and they donate bagged candy,” junior and Key Club president Gabby Jocson said. “And all the bagged candy will go towards care packages to put into care packages to go overseas to deployed troops.”

Students may have heard the announcement asking advisory classes for candy over the intercom. Jocson said she hoped the promise of an advisory party to the class that donates the most will be enough incentive for students to participate. Once donating ended Oct. 26, Key Club gathered the candy and sent it to California.

Operation Gratitude, which has been active since 2003, allows any school, organization, or individual to participate by volunteering or donating. Other than candy, the program also sends letters, handmade scarves and more to deployed soldiers.

According to their website, “Operation Gratitude has delivered more than 2.1 million care packages filled with items donated by grateful Americans and service-friendly companies that want to express their support for Heroes serving both overseas and close to home, as we work together to bridge the civilian-service divide.”

Jocson, who found out about Operation Gratitude online, says she thought participating would be a good way to give back to the military base community.

“That was kinda my drive because I know a lot of my friends and a lot of this community have deployed family overseas,” Jocson said. “So being a part of this little thing that we’re doing here, for donating candy, would benefit them greatly.”

Jocson said she also thought it fit with Key Club’s mission.

“This is the first time any club has done this and I just thought it would be good representation of Key Club because it’s kinda what we stand for,” Jocson said. “Helping out our community, just giving back.”

And the club is keeping busy doing so. The club, according to Spanish teacher and Key Club advisor Jennifer Sedlacek, is also involved in school projects such as collecting money for UNICEF to prevent Neonatal Tetanus, and Collecting Thanksgiving Baskets for families for Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership, and even more projects outside of the building.

“I think things are going great for Key Club,” Sedlacek said. “We have a lot going on right now.  It is keeping our members involved by giving everyone lots of options to participate.”

You can find out more about \donating and volunteering at the Operation Gratitude website.