2015-02-13 / Front Page

Operation Cupid’s arrow on target

Project that sends Valentines to service men and women celebrates 10th anniversary
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

For the past 10 years, active members of the military and retired veterans from Maine have felt the love of students all across Scarborough.

Since 2005, Scarborough students have been sending Valentines to military men and women through Operation Cupid, an annual event started by middle school teacher Tom Griffin’s class as a community service project.

The project, which has been taken over by the Builders Club, Scarborough Kiwanis’ community service group at Scarborough Middle School, started as a way to support Maine Reserve and National Guard troops deployed overseas by sending Valentine cards and care packages. Since Maine does not have any troops deployed, this year’s effort, like in 2014, is going to support veterans at Maine Veterans Home and the Libby Mitchell Post of the American Legion. Valentines and gift cards to Hannaford will also be sent to residents of the Arthur B. Huot House, a residence in Saco that provides housing for homeless veterans.


Scarborough Middle School sixth-graders Kristina Jutras (left) and Maggie Amann design Valentines in the middle school cafeteria Tuesday as part of this year’s Operation Cupid. More than 400 Valentines were made then delivered personally or mailed to veterans and public safety professionals in Scarborough. The project was started 10 years ago as a community service project in Tom Griffin’s class. (Michael Kelley photos) Scarborough Middle School sixth-graders Kristina Jutras (left) and Maggie Amann design Valentines in the middle school cafeteria Tuesday as part of this year’s Operation Cupid. More than 400 Valentines were made then delivered personally or mailed to veterans and public safety professionals in Scarborough. The project was started 10 years ago as a community service project in Tom Griffin’s class. (Michael Kelley photos) This year, Operation Cupid will also send Valentines to active and retired members of the Scarborough Public Safety Department.

Griffin said Operation Cupid regularly receives thank you notes from the military for the small, yet thoughtful gesture.

“I get letters flying in all the time from people from all over the place thanking us. Some of them are very personal,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t take much. It just takes a little effort to make their life better.”


Scarborough High School junior Lexie Jamieson creates an Operation Cupid Valentine at Scarborough Middle School. Jamieson has been working on Operation Cupid, a project of the Builders Club, since she was in middle school. 
(Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough High School junior Lexie Jamieson creates an Operation Cupid Valentine at Scarborough Middle School. Jamieson has been working on Operation Cupid, a project of the Builders Club, since she was in middle school. (Michael Kelley photo) Ryan Francis, the recreation therapy director at Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, said it is a gesture that is appreciated by the home’s residents.

“The residents always appreciate it. They appreciate knowing people are thinking of them,” Francis said.

“Even if they don’t know them personally, it is nice to receive something from (the students),” he added.

Jim Damicis, a member of Scarborough Kiwanis and liaison to the Builders Club, said while the effort has been supported by many people over the years, it is Griffin’s oversight that has made Operation Cupid such a success.

“It’s been his leadership, determination and his ability to motivate the kids, because once you give them the opportunity, they really jump all over it,” Damicis said.

It is a project that students can get involved with, whether they are a elementary school student in K-Kids, a members of the middle school’s Builders Club or a student at the high school involved with community service.

Damicis said the project is something students can support, no matter their age.

“It is the one project we do where we try to connect off four levels,” Griffin said of the K-Kids, Builders Club, Key Club and Kiwanis Club participation.

Lexie Jamieson, a junior at Scarborough High School, has been involved with Operation Cupid since she was in middle school.

“I remember being part of it when I was in middle school. It’s one of the big projects we did each year,” said Jamieson, a member of the high school Key Club. “The Key Club, as a part of the Kiwanis family, comes and helps out with the project.”

Students, school staff and parents came together in the middle school’s cafeteria Tuesday to put the final touches on this year’s effort by making and organizing last-minute Valentines.

“It’s fun,” said Scarborough Middle School sixth-grader Kristina Jutras, a member of the Builders Club. “Our teacher said we were going to make people’s week and that felt good.”

Fellow Builders Club member and sixth-grader Maggie Amann agreed.

“It feels good to know you are helping people,” she added.

Griffin estimates more than 400 Valentines were made.

“It’s been a really great between all the groups and the entire community. It is something that is very simple. It is easy to do and something that doesn’t take a lot of money,” Griffin said.

“People don’t realize how easy it can be to do service and give back to your community,” Jamieson added.

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