PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – One Tampa Bay teen is making sure the men and women who serve our county feel remembered and supported while on deployment.

Operation: Military Matters has sent 8,000 care packages to our military worldwide.

“When I was 9 years old, I went to a Veterans Day assembly, and they said that they didn’t feel appreciated while they were overseas in the military,” said Graci Tubbs, Operation: Military Matters Founder.

Operation: Military Matters started as a school project for now-16-year-old Graci Tubbs.. Thousands of care packages have been sent out since to show the military aboard love and support.

“It gives them a little bit of morale and motivation to keep going because times are really tough over there, and you need a little bit of support,” Tubbs said.

Capt. Andrew Steighner and his unit were sent 200 care packages during his last two deployments. Back state-side, he drove from Georgia to give a personal, in-person thank you as dozens of volunteers welcomed him home. 

“When you feel a connection and you could see someone took the time to pack and put something together for you,” Steighner said.

This is why Tubbs continues to make the packages and raise awareness – to make a difference.

“It makes my heart know that we’re doing a good thing, and we should keep going, and it’s awesome to see him come here,” Tubbs said.

There are several ways to support Operation: Military Matters, through donations, helping with a packing party, or creating a donation bin at schools or offices.