During a trip to a local veteran’s hospital with my dad in 2012, a Marine Corps veteran, I noticed that many of the veterans lacked basic toiletries and lived too far from the hospital for family or friends to visit regularly.
I was only 13 at the time, but decided to make a 4‑H service project to bring smiles and support to veterans staying in VA hospitals by hand-delivering homemade get-well cards. After my first visit I learned that many long term care Veterans lacked basic hygiene items. So I started adding hygiene care packages to our card deliveries. These packages included essential toiletries and fun items like playing cards. I decided to name my project Operation: Veteran Smiles (OVS).
In 2017 my project gained national attention and spread across the country. Today OVS deliveries happen in over 17 states in the US throughout the year. OVS has helped more than 8,500 veterans with care packages, support and face-to-face interaction with young people. More than 7,500 volunteers and 4‑H’ers have hand-delivered care packages, homemade cards and musical therapy.
Submitted by Amelia Day