The contents of Operation Gratitude Care Packages are intentional and thought out in order to not only be comforting, but practical for the military, first responder, and healthcare heroes who receive them. One former San Jose police officer says that was especially true for him–even months after the fact.
Giuseppe Altadonna now works for the NYPD, but says it was while he was serving as a Community Service Office in San Jose in 2018 that he received his first Operation Gratitude Care Package, complete with a paracord bracelet, handwritten letter of appreciation, snacks, and energy supplements. Altadonna says he tucked the pouch away in his work bag and was able to call on it in the midst of an extended and critically-important shift.
“I was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident with a fatality and it was a long day. Me and my partner were already working 12-plus hours at that point. We didn’t get a meal break and we were both tired…I remember going in my backpack and [telling my partner] ‘I’ve got a 5-hour ENERGY for both me and you.’ So, it ended up keeping us alert and able to go for another five or six hours that night. It definitely came in handy and I’ll never forget that red pouch.”
The Operation Gratitude package and the care that went into assembling it had such a profound impact on Altadonna that he still has parts of it three years later, including the personal note from an Operation Gratitude volunteer, the paracord bracelet he wears on duty, and the pouch it all came in. For him, it’s a reminder that there are people all over this country who still support his line of work, even after a tumultuous year like 2020.
“To see that [volunteers and sponsors] are backing Operation Gratitude and backing first responders, it shows that not everybody joins that…mentality of hating on police and what we do. Because at the end of the day, I joined this field to help.”
More recently, Altadonna had the opportunity to see the other side of Operation Gratitude’s care package program. He was able to see the impact of a care package when he participated in an Assembly Day with the NYPD where he helped prepare 7,000 care packages for other service members. He says that experience gave him new insight into the organization and added appreciation for volunteers nationwide, whether they spend hours assembling care packages or just a few moments writing a letter of gratitude.
“I would definitely thank them. At the end of the day, donating 15 to 20 minutes of your time could mean the world to somebody.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Operation Gratitude, visit our website.