Operation Gratitude

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U.S. Army

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: BattalionBuddy@gmail.com.)

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 opgrat@gmail.com.

Once again: THANK YOU for your support!

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Troops to Troops: Gifts of Caring for Our Military

To Girl Scout and Brownie Troops Across the U.S.A.:

We are grateful for the Girl Scout and Brownie troops that help us send Girl Scout cookies to our courageous deployed troops. We enjoy working with the Girl Scouts during their Cookie Pre-Sales and Booth Sales to ensure that we can include one or two boxes of Girl Scout cookies in each of the 100,000+ Care Packages we send out during our Patriotic Drive in the Spring and our Holiday Drive in the Fall-Winter.

To increase your sales, and bring smiles to the service members deployed overseas, you can suggest that buyers purchase extra boxes to be donated to the troops. Once you have collected all the donated boxes, please deliver or ship them to Operation Gratitude and we will take care of sending them overseas in our individually addressed care packages.

In the past, our recipients have enjoyed the personal notes that the Girl Scouts (or the donors) have attached to the boxes (2″x 4″ mailing labels work best), and we encourage you to do that again. Please be sure the notes are visible for screening, are addressed generically (Dear Brave One, Dear Hero, etc.), and are upbeat and positive. Please see our Letter Writing flyer for more information: LETTER WRITING

Upon a donor’s request, we will provide an Operation Gratitude acknowledgment for an individual donation of 50 boxes or more. If donors request a receipt from Operation Gratitude, we recommend that you have a triplicate receipt book–give one copy to the customer; keep one copy for your records and send the third copy to us so that we can send an acknowledgment to the buyer. Please be sure to include the donor’s name and full mailing address on the receipt. Please mail the receipts (but NOT the cookies) to:

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436

While we know that Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties are extremely popular, we respectfully request that you do not send us those varieties, as we cannot send chocolate products to the desert during the summer. The Caramel Delites (or their equivalent) are fine.

NOTE: If your Girl Scout Council is working directly with Operation Gratitude, please check with your Gift of Caring representative for any special information pertaining to your regional program.

You might also want to reference our10 Ways to Helpflyer and ourTroops to Troopsflyer, too. If you modify the flyers in any way, please email them to us first for approval before making copies — opgrat@gmail.com. We can also provide black and white versions of the flyers and additional photos of troops with their Girl Scout cookies.

Please plan to deliver or ship the cookies between March 12 and May 21 for the Patriotic Drive and September 15 and December 5 for the Holiday Drive. Please ship cookies to:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
ATTN: Girl Scout Cookies
Phone: 262-OPGRAT-1 (262-674-7281)

Depending on the number of boxes ordered, your cookie supplier may be willing to ship directly to us. Please contact them for details. For large orders to be delivered by freight, please have the shipper contact Rich Hernandez for delivery arrangements.

Find helpful shipping tips, cost-saving ideas and important information here: SHIPPING & DONATION INFO.

For in-person delivery, we will accept donations at the armory during our Volunteer Hours of Operation.

Please print and fill out our Donation Form and send it with your cookies so we can mail a letter of acknowledgment and appreciation to your troop. If you want confirmation of delivery on your shipments of item donations prior to receipt of our acknowledgment letter, please use the tracking system provided by your shipper.

For those Girl Scout troops located in the Southern California region, we welcome volunteers ages 12 and up to participate in the assembling of packages at our facility. If your troop is interested in participating, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Penny, at: opgratvolunteer1@yahoo.com and be sure to include “Operation Gratitude” in the subject line. The Volunteer schedule and general information can be found here: http://www.operationgratitude.com/volunteer/volunteer-info-schedule/

We are very appreciative of all your efforts on behalf of our brave U.S. Military Service members. As you can see, we need a LOT of boxes of Girl Scout cookies to meet our goal of one or two boxes in each of the 100,000+ Operation Gratitude packages per year. Please pass our information on to all your Girl Scout contacts and encourage them to work with us as well!

THANK YOU for your support!

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Volunteer Schedule: January – June 2012

Winter Schedule: Jan. 3 — Feb. 29, 2012

Weekday Hours:
Mondays & Fridays: 9-4
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 12-4

CLOSED:
Mon., January 16 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
Mon., February 20 (Presidents’ Day)

Special Fridays:
 Jan. 20 and Feb. 24 — Labeling
All other Fridays: Battalion Buddy Prep/Assembly

Patriotic Drive Schedule: March 1 — June 30,2012

Product Deliveries / Donation Drop-Offs:
March 12 — May 21 during our listed hours of operation only.

Weekday Hours:
Mondays & Fridays: 9-4
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 12-4

CLOSED:
Fri., April 6 (Good Friday)
Mon., May 28 (Memorial Day)

Special Friday: March 30 — Labeling if needed  

Weekend Dates & Hours (All Assembly Days 9-4; All Prep Days 9-12):
Sun. March 4         Prep 9-12
Sat. March 24        Prep 9-12
Fri. March 30        Labeling if needed
Sun. April 15          Down & Dirty Mud Run-Lake Castaic
Sat. April 21           Prep 9-12
Sun. April 22     Assembly 9-4
Sat. April 28          Prep 9-12
Sat. May 5          Assembly 9-4 (Big Sunday Weekend)
Sat. May 12            Prep 9-12
Sat. May 26        Assembly 9-4
Sun. June 3           Prep 9-12
Sat. June 16       Assembly  9-4
Sun. June 24         Prep 9-12
Sat. June 30      Assembly 9-4
Sun. July 1             Yard sale  TBD

IMPORTANT — Please Note: These dates and times are subject to change. Please sign-up for our email list and/or check our website, Facebook and Twitter pages for last-minute updates/changes. Thank you!

Volunteers age 12 and up are welcome to join us at the armory!

If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to volunteer in person, please email our Volunteer Coordinator prior to the event at: OpGratVolunteer1@yahoo.com. Write “Operation Gratitude Volunteer” in the subject line. State day(s),
shift(s), number of volunteers and email addresses.

For more information about volunteering, please take a few moments to visit our website’s Volunteer Info & Schedule page. For the armory address and all other details, please email our Volunteer Coordinator: OpGratVolunteer1@yahoo.com. Please be sure to put “Operation Gratitude Volunteer” in the subject line.

Thank you for your support!

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End-of-Year Gifts = Year-Round Smiles

This is the time of year when many Americans start thinking about charitable giving. Your generous, tax-deductible gifts to Operation Gratitude enable us to continue supporting brave Americans – deployed troops, military children and wounded warriors — with care packages filled with thanks, support and love.

When we receive email and letters like this in reply, we are reminded once again about why we do what we do: “Dear       Operation GratitudeI just wanted to say thank you for the support that you give us. I have deployed three times and every time I have sent in Marines’ names — they appreciate the packages that were sent. It really helped my last deployment when I did not get packages from my family. The only packages I got were from Operation Gratitude. The support helps us get through deployments, even through the holidays. Thank you again — we really appreciate the support. Semper Fi! SSgt. R.S.H.”

Consider these simple, yet substantial ways you can help us continue our work:

TRIBUTE CARDS: Make a donation in someone’s honor or memory. Send our lovely Tribute Cards in your Holiday (or other) Greeting cards indicating that you have made a donation to Operation Gratitude in honor of your friends, relatives, business associates, customers, etc.  These make beautiful and very meaningful gifts at any time of year, but especially for the Holidays.

We welcome and appreciate any donation amount. With Tribute donations, we respectfully suggest a minimum amount of $15 to cover the cost of one care package.

Please include the name and address of the person you would like notified (in the designated form field if donating online, or on a note if sending a check), and we will mail a beautiful tribute letter to them; donors will receive a letter of acknowledgment for tax purposes.

BATTALION BUDDY PACKAGES:  Hoping to provide some comfort and encouragement to the youngest of America’s heroes, Operation Gratitude sends special gifts to the children of deploying or recently deployed U.S. service members. A donation of $45 will send Battalion Buddy care packages to three children who will not be with their deployed parents this holiday season.

WOUNDED WARRIOR PACKAGES: Injured service members who are recuperating in Military hospitals or Wounded Transition Units are cheered when they receive our gifts and realize that their fellow Americans are wishing them well in their recovery. A donation of $150 sends ten wounded warrior care packages.

THINK BIG: Want to do more? Your gift of $750 will lift the morale and put smiles on the faces of every member of an entire platoon!

To make your donation today, click here: DONATE NOW

Or mail your donation by check to:

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436

Operation Gratitude can also benefit from your stock donations — the IRS allows you to deduct its full market value without paying any tax on the long-term capital gain. For more information, please visit this link: Stock Donations

Last but not least, another option is to consider donating a used vehicle via the Cars for U.S. Troops website — your donations DO make a big difference!

Thank you so very much for your generous support!

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Support the Troops with Pemmican Beef Jerky!

Now through Independence Day, Marfood USA will support deployed U.S. troops with a donation of $100,000+ worth of Pemmican Beef Jerky for Operation Gratitude care packages!

Look for specially marked Pemmican – Operation Gratitude displays in stores! For every bag of Pemmican 3.25oz Beef Jerky you buy during this time period, Pemmican will donate a bag of Beef Jerky to Operation Gratitude!

We are thrilled by this donation because jerky is one of the most requested items by the troops — not only is it delicious, it’s packed with protein and can easily be taken out on missions. But don’t take our word for it! The troops can speak for themselves:

“I received one of the Operation Gratitude packages tonight. I was very surprised and wanted to thank you and the rest of your organization. The guys and I really appreciate your thoughts. The items included were spot on. Being an old country boy, the beef jerky hit the spot. Thanks for what you do for us. V/R, J.C.”

“Well I just want to say that I got your box and I really appreciate the time you took to prepare these items for me and my troops. From the time I put the items out the guys passed by and took them, LOL, and these boys like beef jerky like crazy. Well, I hope to hear from you soon and have a good evening. SGT M.S.”

We are thankful for Marfood USA’s generosity! Please help us THANK them, and let’s make this promotion a big success for our troops!

Don’t forget to find us on Facebook, check out our YouTube Channel and follow us on twitter to keep up with all the ways you can join our efforts to put a smile on every service member’s face! We can’t do what we do without YOU!

When you’re looking for more ways to help support the troops, please visit the Great Ideas page on our website.

P.S. If you have a loved one who is deployed in a combat zone and returning sometime AFTER August 1, 2011, please sign him/her up to receive one of our care packages using our online Request Form. Thank you!

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Keeping the Troops COOL with Cool-Ties!

IT’S GETTING HOT!

No doubt about it: It’s heating up again in  Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Africa — and in other places where our troops are hard at work!

Although we encourage year-round knitting of winter scarves and hats, those items won’t be sent to our troops until the Holiday Drive beginning in November. Right now our focus is on trying to help keep service members cooler as the triple-digit temps begin to hit. We would like to put a “cool-tie” into every care package!

WHAT IS A COOL-TIE? So glad you asked! Sometimes they are called bandana cool-ties because they are made out of similar material and are meant to be tied around the neck much like a bandana might be…They are filled with water-absorbent polymers and work on the principal of evaporative cooling.  And unlike the water bottle used in the photo at right, cool-ties are a hands-free way to bring down your body temperature.

WHAT DOES A COOL-TIE LOOK LIKE? If you’re not familiar with what cool-ties are, visit this website to see lots of different photos. (We’re not suggesting you purchase the cool-ties that are sold at that site — but we are hoping you’ll help us by making some!)

COOL-TIE DIRECTIONS This can be a fun and worthwhile project for groups to do together — the work goes much faster with a team or a partner.

You will find your own rhythm and best methods, but this system works for many people:

  • Cut strips of fabric about 6 1/2 inches wide, with the length measurement being the width from selvage to selvage. Please use tan, brown, desert camouflage or other neutral-colored cotton. No American flag fabric please.
  • Sew a small width end, then turn 90 degrees and sew along the whole length side (1/4 inch margin), leaving the last short width end open.
  • Turn it inside out and iron the creases.
  • Sew (about 13 inches) up from the closed end, across the thin width.
  • Add in the crystals. IMPORTANT: Be sure the crystals slide all the way down to the seam.
  • Sew across the thin width again to make a pocket for the crystals.
  • Close the final open thin width end, by tucking in the edges and sewing across.

For more information and to order the polymer beads: http://www.watersorb.com/polymer_cool_neck_bands.htm

QUESTIONS? Email LoreneM@socal.rr.com

Find important shipping information and tips here: Operation Gratitude Shipping & Donation Info

…THANKS for helping keep the troops COOL!

Not sure you want to make cool-ties, but want to help in other ways? Check out Ten Easy Ways to Support Our Troops!

As always, THANK YOU so very much for your support!

(Thanks again to Scarves for Troops project coordinator, Elaine Campbell, for all her help with these craft projects to support deployed service members! This is the third and final of Elaine’s guest posts on our blog.)

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