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2006 Holiday Drive Wraps Up

posted on Feb 28 2007 0 Comments

Record Accomplishments Exceed Expectations
Dear Friends,The packages have been shipped, the inventory has been exhausted, and many smiles could be found on troops’ faces as the 2006 Holiday Drive came to a close at the end of January. During this Holiday Drive, volunteers assembled and shipped over 57,500 packages bringing the total care packages shipped to 210,660 since Operation Gratitude’s inception in 2003!!

“I am so deeply grateful to each of our donors and volunteers!” exclaimed Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude. “We could never have done this without the efforts and generosity of each and every one of them. I am humbled and amazed by the public’s dedication to the troops and to Operation Gratitude.”


“I’d especially like to express my appreciation to all of the volunteer Supervisors,” said Charlie Othold, Director of Operations for Operation Gratitude. “They led a tremendous group of volunteers to accomplish great things during this Holiday Drive. I am very thankful to everyone who contributed in any way to this endeavor, enabling us to reach a record number of troops.”




Focus on the Future
Operation Gratitude Sets Sites on the Horizon







The next packing and shipping event will be our 2007 Patriotic Drive which will kick off during the Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 and 27. We will host sorting and prep weekends prior to that event and additional weekend assemblings during June and early July.

Due to our growth, we are searching for a new facility as we clearly need more space! Once we have finalized our location, we will announce (by e-mail and on the web site) our schedule for the 2007 Patriotic Drive.


Please check the Volunteer and Donation Information Sections of the Operation Gratitude website for more information and schedule updates.



Volunteer Opportunities in the “Off” Season
Something for Everyone To Prepare for Patriotic Drive







Cards “There are so many ways to help in between the drives.” reports Penny Alfonso, Volunteer Coordinator for Operation Gratitude. “The volunteer opportunities are ongoing. Just check out the ‘How You Can Help’ section of our web site or read further in this newsletter for an opportunity that interests you.”

Write Letters to be included in the care packages. U.S. service members deployed for long periods away from home love nothing more than to receive good wishes and words of appreciation and support, especially from total strangers. Operation Gratitude strives to include several personal letters in every package that we send. Please include your own address or e-mail in each letter so the recipient can choose to write back. Please keep your message upbeat and positive. Please do not put individual letters in sealed envelopes; all letters are subject to review.

For more information about our letter writing campaign, click here.


Contribute Financially: All items included in the packages are donated. The cost of shipping each package averages $10/package; Operation Gratitude ships over 100,000 care packages each year. Financial donations to Operation Gratitude, a 501(c)(3), all-volunteer, non-profit organization, are devoted to overall shipping and communication expenses and are tax deductible. Donations can be made by credit card conveniently on-line through PayPal (or click the PayPal Link at the bottom of this newsletter) or by check payable to Operation Gratitude and sent to:
Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436


If you would like to make a donation in someone’s honor or memory, please include the name and address of the person you would like notified and we will send them a beautiful tribute letter; donors will receive a letter of acknowledgment for tax purposes.


Many employers provide matching grants based on employee financial contributions and/or volunteer hours worked. Please check with your employer to see if this is available to you. For those who contribute through United Way, Operation Gratitude is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization eligible to receive your donation as a “write-in” charity.


Organize a Collection Drive: A Collection Drive for Operation Gratitude is an active and fun way for your friends, neighbors, members, scouts and/or students to show their support for our troops. We will be accepting Wish List items for the Patriotic Drive from April 1-June 15.


Recycle to Raise Funds: Our recycler now accepts used video games and video game systems in addition to cell phones, laptops, IPODs, PDAs and ink-jet cartridges. See below for more information and links. This is a win-win-win program: Good for the environment, good for the troops and a great way to clean out your cabinets of those old video games!


Boy Scouts throughout the country have organized collection drives for Operation Gratitude as their Eagle Scout Project. We love working with them! Please e-mail Carolyn Blashek for more information if you would like to help Operation Gratitude through scouting.




7th Annual Benefit for Our Bravest
Annual Event to be Held May 19, 2007







b4b Operation Gratitude is proud to partner with the 7th annual Benefit for Our Bravest, a popular community street fair that honors, through public celebration, America’s “Bravest” — those who selflessly put their lives on the line for the greater good. Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Police Department and Sheriff’s Department will join us as we recognize the courageous men and women of the California Army National Guard’s 746th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, many of whom have recently returned from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. All funds raised at the event this year will be donated to Operation Gratitude.

Donations of silent auction items including theatre, sports or concert tickets and vacations: airfare, hotels, spas, are being sought for the Benefit. For more information or to contribute a silent auction item, please contact (818) 222-6693.


Opportunities to bid for the auction items will be available on-line. Please watch our Operation Gratitude web site for updates on items and how to bid.




SHOP AT THE OPERATION GRATITUDE ON-LINE STORE!
Show Your Support with Operation Gratitude Merchandise







http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=jjeiq7bab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.cafepress.com/opgratitude Operation Gratitude now has its own On- Line Store featuring a wide variety of t-shirts, sweatshirts, accessories, household items and even an Operation Gratitude Teddy Bear!


Five dollars from every purchase will be donated to Operation Gratitude

Visit our store now!




Jamerson Motorsports Teams Up With Operation Gratitude
Let Freedom Roar 84 Tour Begins!







Let Freedom Roar Car In an effort to promote race fan support for deployed U.S. service members, NASCAR Busch East Series Racing Team, Jamerson Motorsports #84, featuring Busch Series driver, Dion Ciccarelli, has teamed up with Operation Gratitude to create the first-ever cause-branded racing team. This season, Team Jamerson will host Operation Gratitude Wish List Collection Drives at many retail locations throughout the country as part of their 2007 “Let Freedom Roar Tour” — Show Car Fan Experience.

“We’re proud to support Operation Gratitude and bring increased awareness to their mission of supporting our brave Troops overseas” said Larry Jamerson, Team Owner. “We hope to lift troop morale by filling up the care packages and sending the thanks of the American people for the daily sacrifices the troops make to defend our freedom.”


“We are very excited that Jamerson Motorsports has embraced our mission of putting smiles on service members’ faces,” said Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude. “The 2007 “Let Freedom Roar Tour” will enable all race car fans to express their appreciation to our troops by donating Wish List items, writing letters and purchasing branded items, the proceeds of which will be used to ship our care packages overseas,” she added.



Fundraising Programs Benefit Operation Gratitude
Recycling and Shopping Can Support the Troops Too







http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=jjeiq7bab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.accessrecycling.com/ogrecycle.html You can support the troops with your everyday shopping and recycling. Please check out these simple and easy fundraising programs to help support Operation Gratitude.

Access Recycling will pay Operation Gratitude for every used video game and video game system, cell phone, ink-jet cartridge, laptop computer, IPOD or PDA received, and will pre- pay the shipping expenses. For more information, click here: RECYCLE FOR OUR TROOPS! If you have questions, please contact: [email protected]


http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=jjeiq7bab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.careclicks.com/group.php?groupID=663 The Operation Gratitude Online Shopping Portal connects to more than 1000 online merchants that provide specials and discounts to our supporters and that also donate a portion of your online purchases back to Operation Gratitude. This is a great way to do your everyday shopping and support our troops at the same time!


Craft Projects Send Gifts of Love
Homemade Gifts Anyone Can Make







There are easy and fun craft ideas for school, scout, social and community groups to make for our Troops:

Bandana Cool-Ties: Click here or here for patterns and directions for these personal cooling bandanas for the troops to wear.
Click here for a link to buy the water-absorbing polymer granules needed for your Cool Ties.


Knit and Crocheted Scarves: Our Holiday Scarf program was a huge hit with the troops. Our elves are already making scarves for the next drive. Click here to e-mail Sharon Howard for more information.


Neck Gators: Follow this link for directions to make neck gators. Please use only tan, brown or desert camouflage colored cotton or non-synthetic material.


Hand-made Greeting Cards: We welcome hand-made cards with your personal message on them or cards that are blank that the troops can use to write to their loved ones (or to you!). Check this site for ideas: Hand-Made Cards



Troops Express Gratitude For Packages
Holiday Packages Bring a Small Slice of Home to Troops Far Away







http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=jjeiq7bab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.opgratitude.com/mailcall.php The e-mails and letters keep pouring in from deployed troops who have received our packages. Here are just a few examples of what the troops say about receiving an Operation Gratitude care package. For more letters from our troops, check out the mail call section of our web site.




“I just recieved a care package from Operation Gratitude. I have to say that this is by far the best care package I have recieved. To include not only great snacks (Girl scout cookie?? Oh yea!!), but also DVD’s (ULTIMATE FIGHTING!!) and music (Carrie Underwood… oh did I mention I’m from Oklahoma?) is incredible. This package seems almost tailored to what I enjoy. I’ve got some popcorn, some kudos bars, and plenty of dried fruits to really enjoy those fights with. I just had to write and say how great it was. As a side note I wanted to mention that my little sister will be really happy to recieve a Beanie Baby from her brother overseas. Thanks for everything, keep up the great support.” Respectfully, MC3 N.B.


“I am one of the recipients of a package from Operation Gratitude and would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughts. I am one of the older soldiers in the Task Force and have been deployed before but this is the first time I have received a package. I am extremely grateful for this but even more so for the younger/first time deployed soldiers. If you could actually see their faces when they get and open a package you would understand fully the impact you have made in their lives. Most of them will remember this for rest of their lives and in doing so will become part of the chain of caring and thought for future soldiers. Your age, rank, or social standing have no bearing on the impact/loss a lot of the soldiers feel during the holiday season. Knowing that someone they have never met is thinking about them and took the time to do something for them can make all the difference in the world.
God Bless all of you.” Sincerely, SA M.J.


“I just received my Operation Gratitude box and took it to my room to open. Wow! What a great surprise. I felt like a million bucks. I am already wearing the “Kathy Ireland” socks inside my boots. They feel very good. Thanks for all the great items, especially the “thumb drives”. They really come in handy when we want to download music and store them on an MP3 player. I especially enjoyed all the letters and well wishes. I had tears streaming down my face as I read encouraging words from the young and not so young. I am a Vietnam Veteran Infantryman who was never treated this good before. It has helped to heal the scars that I have from that era. I am a retired volunteer serving with the First Cavalry Division in Baghdad. We so appreciate your thoughts and your prayers for our speedy and safe return. This is a difficult job here and it’s only with your terrific support that we endure, push forward, and look to the future. You will not be forgotten. Love to all of you wonderful supporters.” BEA



What Else You Can Do
Spread the Word







Operation Gratitude is an all volunteer organization that relies heavily upon word of mouth for support. Share this e-mail and our web site information with family,friends and colleagues!

We continue to set our sights higher and higher as we strive to put a smile on the face of every service member deployed overseas. With your help, this will be our biggest and best Patriotic Drive ever!!







Click here to make online donations through Paypal.
https://www.paypal.com/cgibin/webscr?first_name=Carolyn&last_name=Blashek&undefined_quantity=1&business=opgratitude2003@aol.com&image_url=&return=&cancel_return=&item_name=&amount=$&shipping=&currency_code=USD&item_number=&cmd=_xclick
$ USD

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