Battalion Buddies: Supporting the children of deploying troops
posted on May 09 2011 41 Comments
Hi Brave Young Warrior:
I am your Battalion Buddy!
I am here to cuddle and play with you
while Mommy or Daddy is away!
And my friends at Operation Gratitude
will be sending a little something to
Mommy or Daddy, too!
Having already shipped more than 600,000 care packages to service men and women deployed in combat zones, Operation Gratitude is pleased to announce the launch of “Battalion Buddies” — a new program designed to serve and encourage the young children of deploying troops.
In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude will begin providing special stuffed toys – known as Battalion Buddies – to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy.
“Our hope is these gifts will offer some degree of comfort to children while their moms and dads are far away, serving their country,” explained Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek. “We want the children to know that they too have caring friends across the country who are aware of their sacrifices and send their appreciation.”
Aided by an initial donation of 28,000 stuffed toys hand-made by employees of the McKesson Corporation, and a follow-up donation of the cards by Tobu Print Group, Operation Gratitude was inspired to provide Battalion Buddies by the Commanding Officer of the National Guard armory in which the group operates. LTC Angel Ortiz, seeing the McKesson stuffed animals during a recent Care Package Assembly, asked whether Operation Gratitude could donate some for his units that would soon deploy.
“I realized these cuddly animals would be a perfect item for the children to hug as they were about to say ‘Good-bye’ to their parent,” said LTC Ortiz. “In addition, the animals would be a beautiful gift from the American people to say ‘Thank You’ to the military children who serve our nation in their own special and courageous way.”
As with its Care Packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddies program will provide every American opportunities to encourage the children of troops serving in combat by donating stuffed toys and contributing funds.
A great volunteer activity with kids, friends and/or co-workers is to make a Battalion Buddy from a kit! Kits to make stuffed animals can be found online. One such website is Bday Bears.
Those wishing to donate brand-new stuffed toys (ready-made or from a kit) to be used as Battalion Buddies may send them to the following address:
Financial donations are welcome and may be made online here: Donate to Battalion Buddies or by check made payable and addressed to:
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
U.S. Military: We are happy to send the Battalion Buddies to all the children of a deploying or deployed unit upon **request from the rear detachment and/or family readiness officer. Please have the command contact us at [email protected] so we can make arrangements directly with them for a shipment. (At this time, we do not have the resources to send the Buddies to individual children.)
THANK YOU for your generosity and support — we couldn’t do what we do for the troops and military families without YOUR HELP!
**Please Note: We greatly appreciate the service and sacrifice of all military families, but the specific intent of Battalion Buddy packages is to provide comfort to those children who will not get to see their parent for a long time and need something to hold on to. Please understand our very limited resources limit our ability to broaden this program at this time.