First grader's Thanksgiving project results in 500 cards for troops

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Friday, November 27, 2015
(Derik Emmersen)
Derik Emmersen

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. (WLS) -- Hundreds of American troops stationed overseas are getting a holiday surprise this weekend thanks to a first-grade boy who wanted to make a difference.

Deklan Emmersen, a 6-year-old boy from Playa Vista, California, decided to send soldiers a holiday wish after seeing a TV commercial for "The Wounded Warrior Project."

Deklan presented the project to classmates at his elementary school in October, and now more than 500 cards and care packages are headed to troops around the world.

"It was kind of surprising," dad Derrick Emmersen told ABC News. "The teachers in Deklan's class said 'Just because you're young, doesn't mean you can't make a difference.'"

The letters and packages will be delivered to troops by "Operation Gratitude," a non-profit that supports troops around the world.

We're amazed every single day by people all over the world supporting our troops," said Chris Clark, vice president of Operation Gratitude. "When we find young people like (Deklan) supporting our troops, that makes it even more special."

Deklan has decided to keep the project going by allowing kids to send their letters electronically to

"I feel good about it," Deklan said. "I'm excited to see if any of the soldiers respond. If they receive letters I think the soldiers would be happy."