Operation Goody Bag

WINNER: $100,000 Challenge Recipient

Overview of Operation Goody Bag Service Project    On September 11, 2001, tragedy struckAmericain a way no one could have imagined. While shock spread across the country, the nation's unknown heroes came to the rescue. In the first weeks, my computer students created heartfelt tributes remembering those who perished and honoring the sacrifices of First Responders and our Troops.  Twelve months later, the “1st Annual Night of Remembrance & Hope”, a collection of these tributes, was shared with the community.  But, the students wanted to reach out personally to everyday American Heroes, but how? The answer came in 2003.  The children would make Goody Bags, a brown lunch bag, colored in a patriotic theme, filled with lollipops, candy, a personal letter of thanks, and a poem.

Ten years later, the mission of Operation Goody Bag remains the same:  to remember September 11th and express appreciation to our military men and women, Veterans, and First Responders through the gift of a Goody Bag.  The mission is carried out through performances of the student-created “Night of Remembrance & Hope” at VFW, Fire/Ambulance Corp, American Legion, Elks, and Rotary events, Scout meetings, churches, neighboring schools, and community centers.  Guests color bags, write personal letters of thanks and fill Goody Bags to ship to America’s heroes.  As a result, students have received thousands of thank you notes with a common theme:  while our heroes know family and friends support them, a gift from a stranger makes all the difference in the world

To date, Operation Goody Bag has distributed over 200,000 Goody Bags.  For more information, see website at www.operationgoodybag.org .

OGB and September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance We will present our tenth annual remembrance ceremony, a tribute to remember September 11th and to honor those who died and those who served in the aftermath.  We will involve dozens of organizations including: Bergen County School districts; Scout groups; Senior Citizen Groups; VFW; American Legion; Veterans Home; Chamber of Commerce; Fire Houses, Ambulance Corps; Police; Rescue Workers; Wounded Warriors; US Navy; NJ National Guard; Elks; Rotary; Day Care Centers; Churches and Houses of Worship, to name just some.  We are also reaching out to shopping center locations and corporate office locations in our county. We will commemorate the losses of September 11th and honor the service and sacrifices of those who responded at a three-hour event to be held at East Brook Middle School on September 8th at 7:30 PM. The night will begin with one hour viewing of tributes we have shared across the country. (Operation Goody Bag was an on-site service project at the 2007 National Service Learning Conference inAlbuquerque) Audience will then stuff up to 10,000 Goody Bags which will be delivered to First Responders and our Troops. 

 In August, we will hold letter writing/coloring events. Volunteers will color a Goody Bags with a “Remember September 11th” theme and to write thank you notes to Troops and First Responders.  The bags will be filled at the Night Show.  Outstanding Goody Bag artwork will be on display on September 11th in the town library followed by our annual Freedom Walk to remember 9/11, which an OGB student was inspired to start in 2007.  Participants will be coloring Goody Bags before and after the walk.  We expect over 1,500 guests to participate in the Night Show, Goody Bag packing and Art Show/coloring at library.  So far, we have five towns signed up to color Goody Bags and write letters during the first week of school which totals close to 7,000 students.  We have partnered with a large supermarket chain to actually print the “Tale of the Goody Bag” on the back of 50,000 brown lunch bags in anticipation of a large request for our school 9/11 Remembrance activity.  In our estimation, we may need a second printing!  We have held twelve meetings to make our 10th Anniversary event a success.  Committees have been formed.  We have confirmation from News 12 that anchor will be doing story. Invitations to 9/8 event have been mailed and guest speakers arranged. Facebook page is being organized and we will be on Twitter with Goody Bag updates. Electronic signage across town has been reserved.  Paramus is less than eight miles from New York Cityand on September 11th, our town suffered many losses.  Our “Night of Remembrance & Hope” event brings the community together, helps it heal and lets the survivors know that we have not forgotten.  Operation Goody Bag creates an awareness of the value of service and a bond of friendship and respect between children, communities, and men and women in uniform.  OGB is a simple, but meaningful way for Americans to remember September 11th and to say thanks to those who keep us safe.