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Tribune Editorial: For Veteran's Day, write to those serving overseas

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Cheers to Operation Gratitude for putting together care packages and letters from home for the holidays.

The holidays can be a lonely time for military service members deployed in combat zones thousands of miles away from home and loved ones.

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Receipt of an unexpected letter with words of appreciation and good cheer can lift morale and put a smile on a service member's face.

In honor of Veterans' Day, a gourmet coffee roaster -- the Rogers Family Company -- in partnership with Operation Gratitude is sponsoring a contest that encourages Americans to write letters to the troops for the holidays, and at the same time earn prizes for themselves and some cash for their schools.

The California-based Operation Gratitude plans to send more than 70,000 care packages this holiday season to troops deployed overseas.

The non-profit, all-volunteer group hopes to get enough submissions from the contest to include at least one letter in every box.

To meet that goal, the group is encouraging everyone -- students, parents, teachers, and all caring citizens -- to write a letter to the troops.

"Sometimes, the gesture that touches a soldier, Marine, airman or sailor the most is a simple, heartfelt thank-you," said Rogers Family Co. President Jon B. Rogers, who served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

"We hope that the 'Letters To Our Troops' contest will provide all Americans a way to show their appreciation for our troops' sacrifice and help raise money for our schools at the same time."

To enter the contest, go to dearhero.opgratitude.com and click on the "Write a Letter" button.

Upon registration and submission of their letter, participants will be entered to win one of three prize packages, which include money for their chosen schools and gift cards provided by the Rogers Family Company.

The grand prize of $2,000 will be donated to the elementary or high school of the winner's choice. Other prizes include a $250 Rogers Family Coffee gift card and a $100 iTunes Gift Card.

The winning letter will be included in Operation Gratitude's milestone 400,000th care package, sent in December.

The contest runs through Dec. 12. All appropriate letters submitted in the contest will be sent to service members via Operation Gratitude care packages, assembled for security reasons at a National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, Calif.

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