Mission Statement & Facts
Operation Gratitude’s mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our First Responder, Active Duty, Veteran, and Wounded Hero communities. We also seek to provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation for these deserving Heroes through hands-on volunteerism, such as collection drives, letter writing campaigns, handcrafted “Made with Love” projects, and care package assembly events.
Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 250,000+ individually-addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas and to their children left behind. Also, to New Recruits, Veterans, First Responders, Wounded Heroes and their caregivers. Each package contains food items, hygiene products, entertainment, handmade items, and handwritten letters of support.
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 1,500,000 care packages.
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 works with representatives at Military hospitals, Wounded Hero Transition Units, VA Hospitals and Veterans’ Organizations to provide care packages for Veterans, Purple Heart Recipients and their Care Givers to let them know they are never forgotten and because it is never too late to say, “Thank You.”
First Responder Program:
In addition to the military communities, Operation Gratitude sends “First Responder Care Packages” to service volunteers who assist with natural disaster and crisis relief efforts worldwide, to thank them for their continued service, as well as to Law Enforcement and First Responder agencies throughout the United States that serve civilians daily.
Battalion Buddy Program:
In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude provides special 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 Purple Heart Recipients, Veterans, New Recruits and Deployed members of all Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and to units 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 250,000+ 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 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 5-Star rating and earned the Guide Star Exchange Seal, demonstrating our commitment to transparency.
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 the Military.
Operation Gratitude is proud to employ Veterans to fulfill key management 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 $75-$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 and Distribution Manger
Medhanie Habte, Director of Development Services
Ann Hamilton, Manager of Social Media
Esther Katzman, Troop Database Manager
Nancy Levy, Director of Donor Relations
Emily Rich, Director of National Development
Kelly South, Program Outreach Manager
Wilbur Walker, Warehouse and 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]
This Website has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse, and alteration of the information under our control. The security measures used on this site include, but are not limited to, industry-standard Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology, firewalls, and internal policies to maintain the security of stored data. While we follow generally accepted industry standards to protect the personal information submitted to us, no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage, is 100 percent secure. Therefore, while we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your personal information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.