In March 2003, Operation Gratitude sent its first four care packages to deployed service members in Iraq. Since then, the nonprofit has successfully provided opportunities for millions of Americans to express their appreciation through hands-on volunteerism and has lifted the spirits of more than 3.3 million deployed troops, recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders, and healthcare heroes. 

Operation Gratitude is one of the largest and most impactful nonprofits in the country for hands-on volunteerism in support of military, veterans, and first responders, offering volunteer opportunities for every American to express their appreciation to all who serve and protect our nation. 

We Believe

  • Americans want to do their part for the country they love. 
  • Americans across our great country care about those who provide safety, security, and protection for our way of life, and want to show their gratitude to those who have raised their hand to serve and sacrifice for our nation. 
  • Saying “Thank You” and other expressions of gratitude can lift the spirits of both those who give and those who receive.

Carolyn’s Living Room: 2003

Forward Operating Base: Today


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.