Mission Statement & Facts
Operation Gratitude seeks to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of the U.S. Military and First Responder communities and provide volunteer opportunities for Americans to express their appreciation to all who serve our nation.
Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 200,000+ individually addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to New Recruits, Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Heroes and their Care Givers. Each package contains food, hygiene products, entertainment and handmade items, as well as personal letters of support.
Through Collection Drives, Letter Writing Campaigns, Craft Projects and Care Package Assembly Events, Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to say “Thank You” through active, hands-on Volunteerism.
Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer-based corporation, funded entirely by private donations.
Since its inception in March 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have assembled and shipped more than 1,600,000 care packages.
Deployed Troop Packages
Since 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have assembled and shipped the hallmark “Operation Gratitude Care Packages” to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coasties deployed overseas. Each package is personally addressed, by name, to individual service members, and contains up to 50 assorted food, hygiene, entertainment and handmade items plus several letters of appreciation written by American children and adults. All items included in the packages are donated by individuals, groups, organizations and businesses from all across the nation. The Care Packages are valued between $50-100 and cost the organization $15/each to assemble and send.
New Recruits, Veteran, Wounded Heroes, and Caregiver Care Package Programs:
Operation Gratitude coordinates package deliveries to the graduates of Boot Camps in all Military branches and newly commissioned officers from the Service Academies. Operation Gratitude also works with representatives at Military hospitals, Wounded Hero Transition Units, VA Hospitals and Veterans’ Organizations to provide care packages for Veterans, Wounded Heroes, and their Caregivers to let them know they are never forgotten and because it is never too late to say, “Thank You.”
First Responder Program:
Operation Gratitude sends “First Responder Care Kits” to Law Enforcement and Firefighting agencies throughout the United States to thank all First Responders for their courageous service in protecting and defending civilians here at home every day.
Battalion Buddy Program:
In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and unit leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude provides our trademarked stuffed toys – known as “Battalion Buddies” – to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy.
Our special “Battalion Buddy” care packages contain a large, cuddly stuffed animal, along with other special snacks and items. The Battalion Buddy packages are given to each child at their parent’s pre-deployment or farewell event so the child has something to hug while their Mommy or Daddy is away.
The Battalion Buddy Program is designed to serve and encourage the young children of deploying troops and offer them some degree of comfort while their parent is far away, serving their country.
Who We Serve:
Operation Gratitude sends packages to First Responders, Military Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers and to Deployed members of all Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard from all states and territories. While we will send at least 200,000 care packages per year, we know the recipients share with their comrades, so we project that at least 400,000+ service members will be directly touched by our program annually. In addition, the impact of our program on morale is felt generally throughout the Military (2.7 million people) and First Responder communities (2 million people), and by the loved ones of those who serve (several million more).
Demographics of Population Served:
The demographics of Operation Gratitude recipients mirror the overall makeup of our Armed Forces, which in turn closely reflect the American population. Results of a published 2014 survey indicate:
Black or African American: 17%
American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 1%
The gender demographics of our recipients also reflect the overall makeup of our Armed Forces, which is approximately 85% male and 15% female.
Operation Gratitude is a California corporation, granted 501(c)(3) exempt status by the IRS, and recognized as a charitable organization by the California Franchise Tax Board.
More than 95% of all donations are devoted to Program Services.
Operation Gratitude is proud to have received a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator and the coveted Platinum rating from Guidestar, demonstrating our commitment to transparency and financial efficiency. Audits by state and charitable watchdog groups have determined that we meet all standards for charitable accountability.
This is a tribute to the patriotic spirit of the many key volunteers who devote themselves to the organization without pay in order to express appreciation to all who serve.
Operation Gratitude is proud to employ Veterans to fulfill key management and oversight functions.
All contents of Operation Gratitude packages are donated by individuals and groups through collection drives, or by companies that donate their own products. In-kind donations of products and services averages $10-12 Million/year. Our cash budget for 2015, to ship up to 180,000 packages, was $2.6 Million. Our overall cost to assemble and ship each package is $15; the donated contents of each package are worth $50-$100.
Tax Returns, Audited Financial Statements and the Annual Report are available online at www.guidestar.org or by clicking on the Download links above. To read reviews of Operation Gratitude, click: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/operation-gratitude-inc/
The Board of Operation Gratitude has adopted several policies to promote financial transparency, accountability and good governance, including this Whistle-Blower Policy.
For more information or to receive hard copies of our financial materials, please email: [email protected] or mail a request to: Operation Gratitude; 21100 Lassen Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311
Martha “Marty” Martin, Board Chairman
Robert A. Raskin, Chief Financial Officer
Richard E. Saklad, Chair, Audit Committee
Sharman Borncamp, Board Secretary
Captain Jordan Blashek, USMCR
COUNCIL OF ADVISORS:
Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, U.S. Navy, Ret.
Lt. General Mark Hertling, U.S. Army, Ret.
Colonel Rich Anderson, U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.
Lt. Colonel Angel Ortiz, California Army National Guard
Ross Pendergraft, USI Insurance Services
Jason Gietter, Merrill Lynch
Gary Griswell, GE Transportation
OFFICERS, STAFF & KEY VOLUNTEER PERSONNEL:
Carolyn Blashek, Founder & CEO
Jessica Bernstein, Development & Communications Coordinator
Chris Clark, VP & Chief Development Officer
Lisa Clark, Administrative Coordinator
Angel Cuevas, Vice President of Operations
Stacey Danlyan, Special Programs Coordinator
Luis Franco, Production & Distribution Manager
Ann Hamilton, Social Media Manager
Esther Katzman, Troop Database Manager
Nancy Levy, Director of Donor Relations
Kimberly Potter, Inventory & Donations Coordinator
Kelly South, Program Outreach Manager
Wilbur Walker, Warehouse & Facilities Manager
Cheryl Zerah, Vice President of Administration
Operation Gratitude will never sell, rent or otherwise release supporters’ information to anyone. We will use your email address and/or phone number only in regard to questions about donations and to email our Newsletters (3-4x/year) and Press Releases (when exciting events occur). If you do not want to receive these notices, please email [email protected]
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