Oakleaf Village Elementary goes all out for Operation Orion

ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- It's a busy time of year, but the staff at Oakleaf Village Elementary in Clay County stepped up to the plate to help Operation Orion.

Principal Colette Wyant said there was never a doubter on board. Organizer Pam Norwood said it was "100% participation."

Oakleaf students cheered "USA! USA! USA!" when the big fundraiser finale rolled around. The students waved red, white, and blue streamers and applauded the school's efforts.

The school raised $1,330 dollars. That amount will be doubled because the Weaver Foundation is offering a community match for this project.

Operation Orion is a fundraising campaign to raise money for the local non-profit, K9s for Warriors. The group, based in Ponte Vedra, helps veterans from all over the country. The veterans must have a medical diagnosis of PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injury) or they must be victims of military sexual trauma.

The money will help warriors like Mike Warren, who served our country as an Army Ranger and was seriously hurt in an explosion.

Warren says he's tried psychiatrists and more than 30 different medications but nothing significantly helps his PTSD.

Now, he has Goose, a specially trained service dog to help him. Warren says this is the hope he needed. Goose even wakes Warren up from nightmares.

Oakleaf staff members have close family ties to military students, and the principal says approximately half the students belong to military families.

The school's business partners, Sam's Club, Bruster's Ice Cream, Chick-fil-A, and Sweet Tomatoes helped the fundraiser.

If you'd like to help, remember your donation will be matched by the Weavers. If you can raise $100 you'll be buying a special DO NOT PET service vest and a hands-free leash for a K9 and warrior team.

If you'd like to hold a fundraiser, Jeannie Blaylock would like to feature your work on First Coast News. Just email jblaylock@firstcoastnews.com

If you'd like to contact or donate directly to K9s for Warriors, here's their website: http://www.k9sforwarriors.org/


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