At this moment, 5,000 American sailors aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Harry Truman, stand watch in the Adriatic Sea. The Truman is a mighty symbol of US military strength and NATO capabilities in a region where tension is on the rise. The weeks drag on for the sailors, whose early December deployment prevented spending holidays with loved ones.

However, in two weeks they will receive a surprise. On the way are 11 boxes containing over 4,300 homemade Valentine cards and treats – tokens of admiration and support from grateful Americans, aged 3 to 93.

In recent weeks, Adecco Group colleagues rallied the support of their local communities—elementary schools, churches, scout troops, neighbors, and extended families—to craft cards and write letters. Colleagues gathered in conference rooms and signed team banners expressing solidarity for our servicemen and women in harm’s way.

This project grew from humble beginnings. In 2011, the Adecco Military Alliance program encouraged offices to partner with their local bases as a way of recruiting military spouses and veterans. These interactions on base inspired one branch manager to get creative. “We started out attending job fairs and resume writing workshops,” recalled Janet Christensen. “After a little over a year working with them, it just felt like the right thing to do to take our support to the next level. So, we started a program to send Valentine’s cards to our deployed troops.”

Her colleagues and associates—many of whom by then were military spouses—connected emotionally with the project. “It cost us nothing but the time it took to solicit support from the community,” Janet said. “The benefits, however, were far too numerous to count.”

Janet no longer works for Adecco, but her project continues. Like the proverbial acorn that matures into an oak tree, the program grew into something much bigger in the past 11 years than she could have envisioned.