Photo courtesy of Sarah Gabriel

How you can help: Handmade card drive to brighten holidays of veterans in retirement home

November 27, 2018

By Kaylah Jackson /

During the holidays, boxes of glitter, glue, and paper covered cards fill Sarah Gabriel's home. In previous years there have been as many as 700 cards.  It's part of project Sarah started seven years ago when she was trying to teach her students about giving back. Sarah was dismayed when local food banks explained young children could not volunteer.  

“It was actually harder than I initially thought because kids can’t really work with food when they’re really little and there’s another sanitary issue with that. So, I just started thinking about what they could do. They could craft,” said Gabriel.

So, she reached out the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington D.C. They responded immediately and since then every Christmas season Sarah arrives at the retirement home with boxes of cards and a group of children to spread holiday joy. 

“Everybody ends up with fifteen cards in their lap to sit and go through...we go into hospice care and sing and place their cards around the room in a way that they can enjoy them,” said Gabriel. “Just watching their faces light up and these kids watching that reaction, it’s a powerful moment of kindness.”

Photo courtesy of Sarah Gabriel

Often times, Gabriel receives cards written with active duty service members in mind. While none live at the retirement home Gabriel ensures they make it to the intended recipient by donating them to Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that sends care packages to deployed service members.