OperationGratitude

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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…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02tcb7b34do&feature=plcp&context=C4bcde8cVDvjVQa1PpcFMpZd2Jc6uAR0jBX_okUaiyq6d0CipydeY%3D=640&h=385]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C7u2d6g2Vs&feature=plcp&context=C4fe777dVAvjVQa1PpcFMpZd2Jc6uAR7cS0ONI3Xdug-1-TZtliO0=640&h=385]

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

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Doing What We Can to Help our Heroes and Their Families

U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander.

Many U.S. Military veterans and their families are facing extraordinary financial hardships during this time of worldwide economic upheavals. In late 2011 Businessweek reported that the job crisis is dire, citing for example that the youngest of veterans, aged 18 to 24, had a shocking 30.4 percent jobless rate in October, way up from 18.4 percent a year earlier.

Joblessness often leads to homelessness and our veterans are not immune from this frightening reality. 

According to the Veterans Administration: “Current population estimates suggest that about 107,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions…”

While we can’t solve all the problems our veterans and their families might face, we want to offer support and encouragement where we are able. For the past several months, in cooperation with the leadership and chaplain corps of National Guard units nationwide, Operation Gratitude has assembled and distributed thousands of Military Family Care Packages (MFCPs) to Soldiers who cannot find civilian jobs and/or who are homeless, living in cars.

Additionally, MFCPs have been delivered to homeless veterans organizations and VA hospitals.

These care packages contain donated non-perishable food; personal hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc.); household items (soaps, detergent, etc.); gift cards to stores like Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens; toys for children; clothing and more, valued at over $100 per package.

With generous assistance from our corporate sponsors and individual donors, we will continue to support deployed troops serving in combat zones and on Navy ships. We will also continue helping veterans and military families — with MFCPs, Battalion Buddy packages and Wounded Warrior packages — as long as there is a need.

Please consider joining our efforts to support these heroes who have selflessly given so much of themselves fighting for our country. Online financial donations may be made here: Donate Now.

For more specific information regarding the types of in-kind donations we accept for the MFCPs, please send an email inquiry to opgrat@gmail.com.

THANK YOU!

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Mail Call: Do the Troops Really Say That?

Do you ever take time to visit the Operation Gratitude website and read the troop letters and emails we post in our Mail Call section? When you do, you’ll find heartfelt and emotional letters like this one — explaining that our packages provide much more than just fun and delicious items…they provide peace of mind:

Dear Operation Gratitude,

Four days ago a lot of the Marines here in my platoon got your packages. We get a lot of packages from different organizations but these have been given an honor only bestowed by Infantry Marines. When one of us receives a package another Marine will usually say:

Is that an Operation Gratitude one? Those are bad**s.” 

It’s not much, but from a grunt there is no higher praise for something.

To me these packages mean much more because I was once a volunteer at this organization. I would walk the lines with packages and stack them on the pallets.

Now being on the receiving end it’s not only the gifts that mean something to me. Every once in a while we get the chance to use the internet and go on Facebook. When I went on, I saw my family packing packages with all of my friends and extended family. Life is hard enough over here for all of us because we’ve lost some good friends. Some of those friends made the ultimate sacrifice and it has hit us all very hard in the past month. On top of this, thinking about your parents and wondering how they’re doing never helps but sometimes you can’t help go there.

When I saw my family surrounded by smiling Operation Gratitude volunteers helping pack a special package for me, I felt as if a weight was lifted off my chest.

To me, Operation Gratitude is more than just packages but it’s also hope. Hope for the people we leave back home who worry about us. The people who are left in the dark while we’re out here and the people who are always on our minds. It gives them a way to communicate to us and say that they’re still here for us. To me that just holds so much more than the other packages I get. For that I thank you.

Thank you Operation Gratitude for what you have done not only for us, but what you have done for everyone who has family and friends in harm’s way.

From, T.M., USMC

Once again, the troops say it best: THANK YOU to all who help Operation Gratitude bring hope and encouragement to our Heroes serving in harm’s way and to their loved ones at home.

Remember: Every donation of $15 pays the shipping and assembly costs to send another care package. Please consider setting up a “Recurring Donation” so you will know you are  providing hope to our Military all year long: Donate Now.  In the “Donation Information” section, click on “Recurring” as the donation type and then select the frequency (eg. once a month).

Now, you can send one or more care packages every month of the year — providing that “peace of mind” and certain smiles to heroes like T.M. and his comrades.  Donate Now

Thank you for your support!

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Celebrating Another Operation Gratitude Milestone

All across the country, we will have cause to celebrate on Saturday, December 17, 2011 as the 750,000th Operation Gratitude Care Package rolls off the assembly line at the National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, California!

Up to 1000 volunteers and supporters are expected to join the Operation Gratitude Assembly Day for this Milestone Celebration. Volunteers and Supporters like you make all this possible. We could not touch the lives and hearts of so many of our courageous service members and their families without you.

With your help this past year, we launched two new programs: Wounded Warrior and Battalion Buddy Care Packages. Due to the popular demand for these packages, Operation Gratitude shipped a record 150,000 care packages in just one year…. This brings us to our 750,000th care package!

The Assembly Line will open at 9 a.m. We expect the 750,000th package to hit the line at around 11:15 a.m. PST, to the cheers of up to 1,000 Volunteers, Military members, Dignitaries, Legislators, and Celebrities. When that happens, we will halt all activity, gather everyone together, and start the Celebration!

In addition to the standard items and personal letters provided by more than 250 corporate donors and by individuals and volunteer organizations across the country, the 750,000th Care Package will include Top Secret Surprises for a Top Secret Warrior, brought to us by none other than Santa Claus. Expect exciting and classically American gifts donated by our Corporate Partners to be put in the Milestone box. Six previous Operation Gratitude milestone packages contained the keys to new vehicles (motorcycles and SUVs)! A special delivery of the 750,000th Package is being arranged as we speak.

As part of the Milestone Celebration, there will also be a variety of delicious product samples and a hearty lunch, provided by Corporate and local business donors.

Volunteers (ages 12 years and up) are invited to assist in the on-site care package activities.

Please keep in mind, Financial Donations are still needed to pay the assembly and postage costs of $15 per care package.

Every tax deductible donation of $15 sends another care package, personally addressed to an American hero, and filled with 50+ assorted snack, entertainment and personal care items valued at $100 or more.

Please ensure that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine deployed in harm’s way, and every recuperating Wounded Warrior, feels loved and appreciated this holiday season. Please donate online today.

If you prefer to send donations by check, please make payable and mail to:

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, California 91436

Thank you again for your tremendous support of our mission. We hope you will share the excitement of our 750,000th Care Package Celebration!

Location:
California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Corner of Victory and Louise

Time:
Care Package Assembly: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Celebration and Lunch: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
We invite you to stay for lunch following the celebration and to continue assembling packages until 4 p.m.

More Links:
For additional volunteer information:
Volunteer
To learn how you can help:
Support Activities
Donate while you shop: Great Ideas
To Request Care Packages for Deployed Troops: Request Packages

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