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MISSION

To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.

HOW WE DO IT

In March of 2003, Operation Gratitude sent its first four care packages to deployed service members in Iraq. Since then, the organization has given millions of Americans the opportunity to express appreciation through hands-on volunteerism while lifting the spirits of more than 1.8 million deployed troops and another 1.3 million recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders, and healthcare heroes.

Corporate partners and grateful citizens from across the country donate more than 15 million “Wish List” and handmade items each year to fill the signature Operation Gratitude Care Packages. Through donation drives, letter-writing campaigns, craft projects, service projects, and other activities, volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization.

OUR ETHOS

Carolyn’s Living Room: 2003

Forward Operating Base: Today

FOUNDED IN 2003

After 9-11, founder Carolyn Blashek started volunteering at the military lounge at Los Angeles airport. In March 2003, a soldier came into the office and broke down at her desk. He was on leave from a war zone for his mother’s funeral, his wife had left him, and his only child had died as an infant—he had no one else in his life.

“I’m going back over there; I know I won’t make it back this time, but it really doesn’t matter because no one would even care,” he told her. Right then, Blashek realized that when bullets are flying, troops must believe that someone at home cares about them as an individual. That’s when Operation Gratitude was born.

While this grassroots movement started in Blashek’s living room, it now encompasses Americans all over the country donating items and writing letters to those who serve.