Operation Gratitude

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Partnering with Heroes to Support Heroes

 We are excited to announce a strategic new partnership with veteran-focused disaster relief organization Team Rubicon to send “First Responder Kits” to volunteers assisting with natural disaster and crisis relief efforts world-wide.

The “First Responder Kits” (FR Kits) will be assembled at our headquarters in Van Nuys, CA and shipped to every Team Rubicon volunteer across the country.  Each FR Kit will contain an assortment of useful, donated items placed in an Operation Gratitude drawstring backpack for easy transport at a moment’s notice.

Most of the Team Rubicon volunteers are recent U.S. Military veterans. We sent care packages and supported these heroic service members while they were deployed overseas in combat zones,” says Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek. “Now that they are serving our country and the world by assisting with natural disasters and humanitarian relief, we will continue to express our deep appreciation and respect to them through our First Responder Kits.”

Team Rubicon co-founder William McNulty agrees that the partnership between the two organizations makes perfect sense: “Team Rubicon engages U.S. military veterans, many returning home after fighting ten years of war, and offers a renewed sense of purpose for their skills and experiences,” he said.  “The FR Kits will provide our volunteers with essential gear as well as morale-boosting encouragement from fellow Americans who are grateful for their continued service.” (Watch the recent CNN story about Team Rubicon and its co-founder Jake Wood on YouTube here:  CNN Hero: Jake Wood.)

As with our other programs, we will rely on the generosity of the American people — individuals and corporate sponsors — to supply, assemble and ship the initial 5,000 FR Kits by the end of June, 2012.  

We are seeking both product donations to fill the FR Kits as well as financial donations to pay our assembly and shipping costs of $75,000. 

So — by now you may be wondering: How can I help? We are so glad you asked!

The following is our “Wish List” for items we need for the FR Kits: AA and AAA batteries; quick-drying, medium-sized towels; energy bars; sporks (combination utensil/tool); heavy work gloves (size Large); head lamps; safety glasses; all-weather spiral notebooks; pens; Leatherman-style tools; Nalgene water bottles and handmade Paracord “Survival” Bracelets. (See a Paracord Bracelet pictured, left. Learn more about them here: How to Make a Paracord Bracelet.)

Please consider organizing a “collection drive” to gather FR Kit items for us. (Find an informational flyer about “How to Host a Collection Drive” on our website: http://www.operationgratitude.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/CollectionDrive.pdfProduct donations may be shipped to:

Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Attn: First Responder Program

Please download, fill out and include a Donation Form in every package you send us. Find important donation and shipping tips here: Donation & Shipping Info

Note: If you want confirmation of delivery on your shipments of item donations prior to receipt of our acknowledgment letter (allow up to 12 weeks), please use the tracking system provided by your shipper. 

Financial donations are welcome and may be made online:  https://www.operationgratitude.com/donate/

Or by check payable to Operation Gratitude and mailed to: 

Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311

In keeping with our mission of providing “hands-on” opportunities to say “Thank You” to our nation’s heroes, we encourage our supporters all over the country to make Paracord “Survival” Bracelets to include in each First Responder Kit, as well as in the care packages to deployed troops. 

More information and instructions can be found here: How to Make a Paracord Bracelet.

Thank you for your generous support to make all this possible!

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Happy Anniversary, Operation Gratitude!

On March 19, 2003, Operation Gratitude got its start in the living room of its founder, Carolyn Blashek. Four care packages were shipped that day. Nine years and more than 760,000 care packages later, we thought we would take a trip down Memory Lane to reminisce and appreciate all that has been accomplished thanks to the help, generosity and dedication of countless friends, donors and supporters…


Operation Gratitude quickly grew too large for the Blashek home. The charity moved to the California Army National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, CA…


SSG Elizabeth Cowie was our “Armory Angel” who made it all possible for Operation Gratitude to use the armory facilities…Here she is (pictured, right) at the armory with her mother…

As more and more volunteers joined in, Operation Gratitude sent more and more care packages…


We would finish up at the assembly line and form a human conveyor belt to load up the trucks…


…then we’d take the care packages down to the post office…and unload them to be shipped…


…and start all over again!


While much has changed over the years — we’ve added the Battalion Buddy and Wounded Warrior and other programs — what has not and never will change is our commitment to deployed troops who have volunteered to serve our country. We will continue to honor, thank and support them with care packages lovingly-filled with goodies and treats from home. 


…It is their amazing work and sacrifice that makes our work worthwhile.

Thank you to all our troops, past and present…and thank you to all who have helped Operation Gratitude over the years! 

To get a really good idea of how Operation Gratitude has grown and changed, please watch these “oldie-but-goodie” videos…

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

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Ready for Some Good & Dirty FUN?

It’s time to get down and dirty for the troops! The 2012 Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run Series Presented by Subaru starts on April 15 in Los Angeles and zig zags across the country to a total of ten different cities, ending in Sacramento on October 28.

2011 Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run

Operation Gratitude Volunteers at the 2011 Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run, pictured left to right: Chris Pulos, Bob Donovan, Kimmie Lewkowitz and Carolyn Blashek.

Do you see Carolyn “The Boss” Blashek on the far right of this photo from last year’s Mud Run at Castaic Lake? She did ok…but she isn’t 100% covered in mud, and we think that’s just WRONG! Our challenge is this: Carolyn has pledged that she will get muddy from head to toe if we can raise $5,000 for Operation Gratitude through Team OpGrat! Go to this ActiveGiving link to make a donation online today: Support Team OpGrat!

Please help our dedicated team of volunteers reach the goal, and Carolyn will get down and DIRTIER than she did last year!

Still not sure what a mud run is? Check out this video from last year’s fun:

All the mud runs feature 5K and 10K off-road courses filled with:

  • Military-style Obstacles
  • Commanding cargo climbs
  • Wild water crossings
  • Mud, mud, and More Mud!
  • Post-race Food, Music and an awesome Tech Tee

Questions? Visit the Mud Run FAQ page here or send us an email: [email protected]. As always — THANK YOU for your support!

P.S. If you have photos you’d like to share from last year’s Merrell Down & Dirty Mud Run, please send them to us via email — [email protected] — and we will pin our favorites on a new Operation Gratitude Pinterest “pin board.”

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Your Support Makes All This Possible!

THANK YOU! Your generosity makes it possible for us to put smiles on the faces of hundreds of thousands of:

  • Heroes in harm’s way
  • Wounded Warriors
  • Military Children anxiously waiting at home
  • Military families & Veterans facing financial distress

At least 200,000 U.S. troops are still deployed in harm’s way throughout the world. We continue to send to them our individually addressed care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items, hygiene products, and personal letters of appreciation.

In addition, Operation Gratitude has started several new programs in response to developing needs within the Military Community. Here’s a brief description of these exciting developments:

Troop Care Package Program: Since 2003, we have assembled and shipped over 700,000 packages to deployed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. This year we plan to send another 75,000+.

Battalion Buddy Program: We have sent over 50,000 cuddly stuffed animal “Battalion Buddy” packages since May, 2011 to the children of deploying service members. We plan to send another 50,000+ in 2012. Word of our Battalion Buddy program has spread rapidly throughout the family readiness community and we have thousands of orders waiting to be filled! (Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders wishing to request Battalion Buddy packages should send an email to: [email protected].)

Wounded Warrior Program: Our “Purple Heart” Care Packages provide comfort items to troops recovering in Military Hospitals and Wounded Warrior Transition Units.

First Responder Care Kits: Essential supplies are collected, assembled into easily transportable kits and provided to emergency response teams deploying into crisis situations.

Military Family Care Packages: Basic necessities, including food, toiletries, household products, blankets and clothing are given to Military families and veterans facing financial hardships and homelessness due to unemployment.

Concerts that Care & Hiring Fairs: We are producing free comedy and music concerts for troops and their families plus opportunities to connect with potential employers on Military bases around the country.

We rely on the generosity of the American people to continue these efforts in support of heroic troops, veterans, wounded warriors, first responders and military families. Please consider ways you can be involved by making a financial or product donation or by joining us at the armory and volunteering your time. (Live out of the Los Angeles area and can’t volunteer in person? There are many ways to be involved from ANYWHERE in the country. Find ideas here: Take Your Pick!)

Find more information at our website: Operation Gratitude or send questions to [email protected].

Once again: THANK YOU for your support!

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So very {p}interesting, don’t you think?

Have you jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon yet? For the uninitiated, it’s a “pinboard-styled social photo sharing website.” We are having fun figuring it all out, learning as we go. When you have a moment, please check out our pinboards and tell us what you think: http://pinterest.com/opgratitude 

You do not need to join Pinterest to enjoy the photos that are “pinned” there, but if you want more information about the site, we recommend the “Pinning 101” tutorial as a place to start:  

We are finding many wonderful resources and military support information on Pinterest that we look forward to passing along!

Something else that’s new — following the lead of the U.S. Military, on February 28 we took the plunge with Facebook’s new Timeline format. Visit our Facebook page here — Operation Gratitude — and please let us know what you think!

As always, we THANK YOU for your support!

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