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13 | NOV/DEC 2018 Operation Christmas Eve A Mission of Love GERARD GIVES BACK On October 26, 2018, Gerard Academy hosted its Annual Fall Blood Drive. The Red Cross Bloodmobile set up shop in the Academy’s visitor parking lot. Dan Ulland and Kelli Finholdt from Human Resources, along with Gregg Emery from IT, greeted donors and helped them with the registration process. According to the results provided by the Red Cross, Gerard Academy staff potentially saved 36 lives through their blood donations. Gerard plans to host another blood drive in the spring. The Holiday Season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration. For some, it can be a stark reminder of what they do not have or who they have lost. Gerard employee Thomas Herrera is driven to brighten the holiday season for as many youth as he possibly can. Herrera works as a Youth Care Professional on Gerard Academy’s Marseille unit. When asked why he works at Gerard Academy, Herrera stated, “I want to give kids hope.” But, Herrera’s passion for instilling hope in others doesn’t just stop with the youth at Gerard. Growing up in a single parent home with his mom and four siblings, he saw that money Gerard employee, Thomas Herrera, began Operation Christmas was tight. He says if it were not Eve with the vision of giving local underprivileged children the chance to have a more joyous Christmas. for generous donations from community members through the Salvation Army, he and his family would not have had food or presents for Christmas. In the spirit of paying it forward, Herrera decided he needed to do something to help other kids in that position. Five years ago, Herrera started Operation Christmas Eve with a vision of giving local underprivileged children the chance to have a more joyous Christmas by raising money to buy them Christmas presents. He said the name, “Operation Christmas Eve,” was inspired by being a sergeant in the Army National Guard, deployed to the Middle East. Operation Christmas Eve is his current “mission” or “operation,” he says. When he first began to raising money for gifts, Herrara used a well-known, for-profit crowdfunding platform, but he quickly decided to go another route since the platform received a portion of the money raised, and he wanted more to go directly to buying presents for the children. Herrera then set out going door-to-door, business-to-business, asking for donations. He also found that through his connections at Full Force CrossFit and Total Fitness gym, he could directly reach many people in the community. GERARD ARTIST HONORED A New Dominion School student and Normandy resident was recently accepted into the national Celebrating Art contest. Her artwork was chosen to be published in the book “Celebrating Art” — an honor that most contest members do not receive. The publication brings together the best student artists in North America. The Gerard resident said she is proud and excited to be recognized for her artwork!


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