Operation Gratitude

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Mother’s Day and More…Gift-Giving that Supports the Troops!

It’s that time of year again! Time to honor mothers everywhere on May 8! And soon many of us will also celebrate graduations and other special events — weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and more! Why not combine the joy of these occasions with a simple way to support the troops?

Magazines…jewelry…artwork…books…bouquets! Below is a list of ways your gift purchases can serve an important dual purpose by helping to send more Operation Gratitude care packages during our 2011 Patriotic Drive:

1. Read Give Gift cards: The most important woman in your life will love the huge selection of magazines available on ReadGive.com! And she’ll adore the fact that 60% of her Mother’s Day gift will support our troops through Operation Gratitude. (This is the perfect gift for someone who has a passion for reading and a love for giving back to the troops!)

Go to: http://readgive.com/charity/OPGR/ and purchase magazine subscriptions and/or $15 Gift Cards to thank the special woman in your life and to benefit our heroes in harm’s way. Be sure to add the code OPGR to the “special instructions” section on the second screen of the payment process.

2. Stella and Dot jewelry: In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, you can support the troops with your Stella & Dot jewelry purchase! Treat yourself, or grab gifts for loved ones! Now through the end of May, shop and order directly online at http://www.stelladot.com/anneholland and 5% will be donated back to Operation Gratitude!

3. Altruette Charms: The Altruette concept couldn’t be simpler: 50% of the net profit from the sale of this sweet teddy bear in a care package charm (shown at left) goes directly to Operation Gratitude. Beyond financial support, wearing your Altruette bracelet serves another important purpose: it helps spread the word about Operation Gratitude to your friends and family!

4. Artful Vision: Visit Artful Vision’s “Purchase with a Purpose” gallery showcasing the work of more than 70 American artists who donate 20% of the purchase price of beautiful, handcrafted gifts to the charitable cause you select — Operation Gratitude! It’s that simple.

5. Here’s to the Winners: This long-awaited book is a hand-picked collection of many of L.A. Daily News columnist Dennis McCarthy’s favorite columns from the past 25 years. Complete with full-color photos, it’s a special tribute to the thousands of local readers whose lives have been touched by his thoughtful, heart-felt and inspiring essays. McCarthy has been sharing stories about San Fernando Valley residents and their extraordinary accomplishments for the past three decades.

Through his insightful columns, Dennis has been a long-time friend to U.S. service members, military families and veterans, and now he is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Here’s to the Winners to Operation Gratitude:

1. Visit www.dailynews.com/dennis
2. Click on “Buy Now”
3. This will open the eCommerce store, where you’ll see “Here’s to the Winners” for sale.
4. Click on “Add to Shopping Cart” and this page will appear. Users can enter “Gratitude” in the “Apply Coupon” box and click on “Go.”

6. Kabloom Flowers: In honor of National Military Appreciation Month, KaBloom is donating 25% of the proceeds from a variety of beautiful, select bouquets to Operation Gratitude — now through the end of May.

7. Pay Tribute: Make an online donation to Operation Gratitude in honor and/or in memory of someone you love! We will send a beautiful Tribute Letter to the person you would like notified (you — the donor — will receive an acknowledgment of the gift for tax purposes).

8. There are more offers on our Great Ideas page! Be sure to check them out!

THANK YOU for your support of our patriotic cause! Remember to visit our Facebook page and follow us on twitter to keep up on all the latest news!

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Keeping the Troops COOL with Cool-Ties!


No doubt about it: It’s heating up again in  Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Africa — and in other places where our troops are hard at work!

Although we encourage year-round knitting of winter scarves and hats, those items won’t be sent to our troops until the Holiday Drive beginning in November. Right now our focus is on trying to help keep service members cooler as the triple-digit temps begin to hit. We would like to put a “cool-tie” into every care package!

WHAT IS A COOL-TIE? So glad you asked! Sometimes they are called bandana cool-ties because they are made out of similar material and are meant to be tied around the neck much like a bandana might be…They are filled with water-absorbent polymers and work on the principal of evaporative cooling.  And unlike the water bottle used in the photo at right, cool-ties are a hands-free way to bring down your body temperature.

WHAT DOES A COOL-TIE LOOK LIKE? If you’re not familiar with what cool-ties are, visit this website to see lots of different photos. (We’re not suggesting you purchase the cool-ties that are sold at that site — but we are hoping you’ll help us by making some!)

COOL-TIE DIRECTIONS This can be a fun and worthwhile project for groups to do together — the work goes much faster with a team or a partner.

You will find your own rhythm and best methods, but this system works for many people:

  • Cut strips of fabric about 6 1/2 inches wide, with the length measurement being the width from selvage to selvage. Please use tan, brown, desert camouflage or other neutral-colored cotton. No American flag fabric please.
  • Sew a small width end, then turn 90 degrees and sew along the whole length side (1/4 inch margin), leaving the last short width end open.
  • Turn it inside out and iron the creases.
  • Sew (about 13 inches) up from the closed end, across the thin width.
  • Add in the crystals. IMPORTANT: Be sure the crystals slide all the way down to the seam.
  • Sew across the thin width again to make a pocket for the crystals.
  • Close the final open thin width end, by tucking in the edges and sewing across.

For more information and to order the polymer beads: http://www.watersorb.com/polymer_cool_neck_bands.htm

QUESTIONS? Email LoreneM@socal.rr.com

Find important shipping information and tips here: Operation Gratitude Shipping & Donation Info

…THANKS for helping keep the troops COOL!

Not sure you want to make cool-ties, but want to help in other ways? Check out Ten Easy Ways to Support Our Troops!

As always, THANK YOU so very much for your support!

(Thanks again to Scarves for Troops project coordinator, Elaine Campbell, for all her help with these craft projects to support deployed service members! This is the third and final of Elaine’s guest posts on our blog.)

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Making Scarves: How To’s and Tips!

Interested in using your time and talents to crochet, knit or sew handmade treasures for the troops? Here are instructions and tips…followed by some inspiration from the troops themselves — they LOVE getting these gifts in their care packages!

 Denyse’s “Length-Wise Crocheted Scarf” Pattern:

This pattern gives you a nice smooth line along the sides and works up much faster. It is important to cast on loosely so that you have a little stretch when working up the first row and can straighten your work so it does not curl up.

Using L Hook and worsted weight yarn. (Suggestion: Caron one pound no dye lot yarn yields approximately 5 scarves per one pound skein. Save the leftovers and at some point there will be enough for another scarf. You can also make stripes or whatever design you would like from remnants using various colors).

Scarf dimensions 6 inches wide by 48 inches long.

DC= Double Crochet.
1 Row = 48 inches long
7 Rows = 6 ” Wide
Please check your gauge. You may need to adjust hook size or row count etc… if you are a tight crocheter or use different yarn. If you want your scarf wider, add one row.

With L hook, loosely cast on 110 + chain 2.
Row 1: Start in the second hole in chain (where your 110th cast ended) and work across 110 stitches in DC.

Chain 2 and turn.
Keep doing this until you have 7 rows and your scarf is 6 ” wide.
Rows should measure 48″ long.

Note: It normally takes Denyse 1 1/2 Hours to make one scarf.

“Simple Knit Scarf” Pattern from Kathy:

Using a “bulky” yarn, often indicated by the number “5” on the label, cast on 14 stitches using size 13 needles. Be sure to cast on loosely so the stitches don’t pull. Work in garter stitch (knit all stitches) for the entire length of the scarf until the yarn is almost gone; bind off loosely. Weave in ends to finish. Finished scarf will be approx 5-1/2″ wide and approx 46″ in length. This can easily be packed in our boxes. The yarn sold at Michael’s called Loops & Threads Charisma, makes a perfect scarf to be shipped. The yarn is all acrylic and is very soft and stretchy. Since it is a “bulky” weight yarn, there is no need to double it while knitting. It has 109 yards per skein. This is a very simple pattern. With the quickness of the all garter stitch, a scarf can be completed in a couple of nights.

FINISHED SOME SCARVES…NOW WHAT? Visit our website for all that info!

ANY MORE QUESTIONS? Email Lorene: LoreneM@socal.rr.com

And now a few words from some thankful service members:

“We received the scarf and note you sent in a military care package from Operation Gratitude. Thank you very much for remembering us. They came at a good time since it’s actually cooling down in the desert. They will keep us warm and remind us of love and support from home. Remember to stay strong, stay motivated and have A Fine Navy Day!”

“I received an Operation Gratitude package the other day and inside was a hand-crocheted scarf. Now, at first I wasn’t sure what I could use it for – it couldn’t be worn while in uniform outside. But, this morning I came into my office and found it to be quite cold! I have enough cold weather gear to keep my body warm, but I usually don’t carry around anything for my ears and neck. Your scarf works perfectly! Right now, I have it wrapped around my neck and ears and its keeping me nice and warm. So, I wanted to say thanks for the scarf and for your support to the troops overseas. It is people and families like you that make being here bearable. Thanks, CPT B.Z.”

“I wanted to thank you very much for the beautiful orange scarf in the box of goodies you sent to Iraq. I love it! I work in the Office of Provincial Affairs in the Embassy and appreciate your thoughtfulness. It is very kind of you to think of us and take the time and expense to send lovely and thoughtful items. I will cherish the scarf. Thanks again and Happy Holidays to you and your families!  SM.”

(This is Part Two in a series of three blogposts from our wonderful Scarves for Troops project coordinator Elaine Campbell. Thank you for all you do, Elaine!)

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Scarves for Troops: Spring 2011 Update!

Today’s blogpost is brought to you by our gifted and talented Scarves for Troops project coordinator, Elaine Campbell (pictured, right):

Hello! To start out, we want to share some correspondence from our Heroes, reminding us who we are doing this for and how much it means to them!

“I’m currently deployed and received a gift box in the mail and I want to thank you for my stuff. My favorite gift was the scarf. I’m glad that we have people like you in this work that care enough about us. Thank you once again Pfc J.A.”

“We received your package and are so grateful. I am wearing the green scarf that was in the box. It has been on many cold nights with me and is a close friend of mine now! I take it everywhere. I just wanted to say thanks and we all appreciate your support. V/r, WO1 Al P.”

I just wanted to take the time and say thank you for the wonderful scarf you all sent me. It is beautiful. In my day to day work I ride around on a gator and it has been getting colder here as the season is changing. I put my new scarf around my neck under my fleece today and I could feel the difference. I am forever grateful. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may his love, mercy and kindness repay you 100 fold and may he give you peace during this holiday season…Thank You!  Sincerely, WO1 T. C. PS. My wife is also a service member (Air Force), please keep us both in your prayers…”

A Wonderful Idea: I often hear that purchasing yarn imposes a burdensome expense on our knitters. Below is a great idea one of our local knitters had which has proved to be tremendously successful. I hope it inspires some of you to consider something similar. There are many people who may not knit or crochet or have the time, but who would love the idea of sponsoring one or more scarves or hats by covering the cost of the yarn!

Alllow us to introduce you to Denyse and her husband Steve, (pictured, left) who started volunteering at the armory during the Holiday Drive and quickly became twice-a-week volunteers willing to do anything they were asked. Denyse loves to crochet, and she began crocheting scarves for the troops!

Curves Gym Sherman Oaks graciously allowed Denyse to set up a display and invite the gym members to sponsor a scarf by donating funds to purchase yarn. When a Curves member sponsors a scarf for $2.00, or 3 for $5.00, they can add their name on the beautiful flag donation cards that Denyse prints at home. She brings in the completed scarves, attaches the cards with a yellow ribbon minus a bow and leaves it there for the donor to complete by tying the bow. The members are encouraged to hold the scarf or scarves next to their heart and say a little prayer for the troops to keep them safe and bring them safely home. The ladies are aware of the huge sacrifices our troops make to keep us safe at home and love to show their appreciation in this way.

In Denyse’s own words: “Special thanks to all who helped me accomplish my goal of 365 scarves for our troops this year, including the members at Curves of Sherman Oaks for sponsoring 210 scarves and members of my family and friends for sponsoring 155 scarves. Your generous contributions paid for 100% of the yarn needed to make the scarves. Thank you Renee Scott, owner of Curves of Sherman Oaks for allowing me to use the table at the gym for my Operation Gratitude scarf display and for sharing your Curves 8th Anniversary celebration with the culmination of my scarf project and welcoming Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude, to visit the girls.

More from Denyse: “Last but not least. Thank you to my great husband Steve for all his help: He cooked and cleaned so I could crochet, he went to the store with coupons so I could get a better deal on my yarn purchases, he untangled the yarn, took care of ribbon cutting, prepared the cards, signed each and every one of them,  set up and took down the displays at the gym, and found room in his garage for all those huge bins holding 365 scarves until I can deliver them to Operation Gratitude in the fall.”

We are grateful for Denyse’s hard work and generous spirit! She is an inspiration to us — and we hope to you, too!

And finally, I wanted to share the news that Lorene Van Ark-Miller has graciously agreed to help me with email correspondence. Lorene has been a volunteer with Operation Gratitude since the beginning as a knitter, cool-ties maker and letter writer!! She’s the BEST and knows a lot about the organization! Please feel free to email her with questions and/or suggestions about our on-going craft projects to support the troops: LoreneM@socal.rr.com

Look for upcoming blogposts on How To’s and Tips for making scarves and — for the upcoming summer months — cool-ties! Stay tuned!

With love and gratitude,

Elaine Campbell and Lorene VanArk-Miller, Scarves for Troops Project Coordinators

Don’t forget to find us on Facebook, watch the videos we share on our YouTube Channel, and follow us on Twitter to keep up with ALL the latest Operation Gratitude news! Thank you for your support!

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L.A. Mud Run: Get Down and Dirty for the Troops!


APRIL 16 & 17, 2011

Run through the mud, mud and more mud in this military style 5K and 10K off-road trail course!

The Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud Run Series presented by Subaru will be kicking off its 2011 season right here in Los Angeles at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area!

  • Race alongside local Military athletes!
  • There’s a new way to raise funds for Operation Gratitude and help send more care packages to the troops! Set up your own fundraising page and receive a free Operation Gratitude Dogtag!
  • Run in the world’s first Night Mud Run on April 16th! The Night Mud Run is limited to 1,000 registrants, so don’t wait to register and be a part of this one-of-a-kind event at nightfall!
  • Write letters of appreciation to our warriors currently deployed overseas, drop-off items for care packages, receive a great “technical race T-shirt” and enjoy a delicious post-race meal!
  • Military-style obstacles and challenges along the way, and of course — tons of mud and fun!

Click here to see a video from last year’s event in L.A.! We look forward to seeing you there this year!

For more information and to register visit: www.downanddirtymudrun.com

Don’t forget to please find us on Facebook, follow us on twitter and help spread the word about what we do to support deployed troops!

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