By Hadas Kuznits

By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Boxes were set up in office buildings all around Philadelphia Thursday morning for Operation Gratitude.

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Staff sergeant Gary Paschall is an army recruiter who manned the Operation Gratitude table at the Bourse Building. He says this annual day helps connect civilians with service people, who drop off items and letters to distribute to those in uniform.

“They’ll send you anything from beef jerky to comic books, they’ll send you letters. It almost reminds you of basic training when you’re writing home to momma!”

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Pascall says it’s a great way to connect.

“While I was deployed, we had a group of packages come in. I received a few letters. Out of those letters, I would write and email the individuals back and from there, they kind of become — or from my scenario, it became your personal pen pal.”

And the sentiments are very much appreciated.

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“It’s really heartwarming to know that other people will take the time out of their day to do something as simple as say Merry Christmas or Happy Thanksgiving.”