Jerry Paul

THANK YOU — Jerry Paul (left), president of Howard County Veterans Memorial Corp., presents 48 gift cards to Primrose Retirement Community. 

Howard County Veterans Memorial Corp. has been surprising essential employees with a little token of appreciation.

Since the pandemic began, the veterans’ organization has passed out 100 $10 restaurant gift cards to various frontline workers, from postal workers and grocery store employees to nursing home staff. Now, Jerry Paul, president of the organization, is encouraging the community to do the same.

“When you go somewhere to pick up food, buy a $10 gift card, and give it to somebody, your mailman, your trashman, or a nursing home, the staff there, the janitor, the cooks,” said Paul. “It’s the people we never think about. Let them know that you appreciate their sacrifice for what they do for us, and make it a community project.”

While the project uplifts those who are working, Paul said it also helps support local restaurants as they work to recoup their losses.

He encouraged people to think outside of the box and surprise those in industries that often fly under the radar but still are important.

“The nurses are great. The doctors are great. We want to honor them, but there’s always somebody who has to do the grunt work,” he said.

He also encouraged people to support veteran-friendly businesses. Earlier this year, Paul organized a year-round veteran giveback program where restaurants offer discounts to veterans throughout the year. Those businesses now have signs in their windows designating them as “veteran-friendly.”