On July 11, 2019, Operation Gratitude sparked bonds and a passion for service between civilian volunteers and thousands of police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who serve and protect the city of Philadelphia.
Watch this video, and you will see the true impact we made that day, as well as the true potential and unique position Operation Gratitude is in to bridge the civilian-service divide.
Hear the words and look at the faces of civilians, first responders, and military families standing side by side in service to their community and one another. From every walk of life, they came together — they laughed, they sang, and they had conversations that led to meaningful connections, understanding, and empathy.
They realized that, despite their differences, they shared the same neighbors, their kids went to the same schools, and they shared the same commitment to make their community stronger. They recognized a common belief and passion for service and the goodness of humankind through simple acts of gratitude and kindness.
Look at these photos and you will not only understand the true potential of Operation Gratitude to forge strong bonds and bridge divides, but you will also realize the profound impact that we made on hundreds of individual Americans, both in and out of uniform, in Philadelphia that day.
One of those Americans is Alex Greenman who had volunteered and singlehandedly organized an enterprise-wide service project with his company, ImageFirst, a few months before he joined Operation Gratitude in Philadelphia.
In Alex’s Own Words
In his own words, you will see the impact we made on Alex’s life that day when he joined us for his very first assembly day:
I did not serve our country, but unfortunately lost a lot of friends after 9/11. My first day of college was Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, and I was a freshman, in a lab class, at 8:47 am, at NYU in Manhattan.
I am sure you can imagine how the rest of my day panned out. I remember giving my Nextel phone to anyone who needed it, as we got to the street. Nextel was the only phone company that had service after the South Tower fell. I just kept giving my phone to people so they could call their moms and dads, uncles and aunts, and loved ones. I saw men and women fall to their knees when they found out their family member or friend was in one of the towers. For an 18-year-old kid, it was a lot to take in. That phone is in my safety deposit box, and I never erased or used it again after the first few weeks after 9/11. I still have their phone numbers in there. It is a reminder for me to not take anything for granted.
Finding Operation Gratitude is so rewarding for people like me. I couldn’t serve and felt personally attacked, since I was born and raised in North Jersey, about 15 minutes from downtown, I needed a purpose and way of giving back. After many of my friends and my best friend, Marine Sergeant Joseph Bitet passed away, I was lost and started attending meetings with other nonprofits. Joe had severe PTSD after serving proudly for the Marines and even for the Army as a reservist. His story is here if you want to read it.
I just wanted to say thank you for all you are doing. I know you must hear it all the time but trust me, serving with Operation Gratitude made my week and my year. I am sure the others who joined us in Philadelphia felt the same way. I know we did a good thing, and we supported good people. What else in life is better than that? I always believed in the phrase “the most important currency you will ever own, is the effect you have on others.”
Please keep me up to date on all of your events and I will get participation from my organization, my friends, my Fraternity, vendors of mine, and me, everywhere you go. When you come to New York, I will bring an Army. I promise.
I appreciate you and your team’s efforts more than you could ever know.
Alex did bring an Army of volunteers to our community-wide service projects in Nashville, and then again to New York and Cincinnati. He even flew to our HQ in Los Angeles and brought family, friends, and colleagues to volunteer with Operation Gratitude at an Assembly Day celebrating our 2.5 Millionth Care Package.
Alex’s service with Operation Gratitude continues as a volunteer Ambassador in Philadelphia where his actions have had a ripple effect. In making every day a day on, Alex’s Army of volunteers continues to grow, as he inspires hundreds more family members, friends, and colleagues to join our movement.
In doing so, his passion for service honors the memory and legacy of service of his best friend, Marine Sergeant Joe Bitet. He also honors the memories of the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the World Trade Center in New York City, where he was a student at NYU over 19 years ago.
I’m asking you to join Alex and Operation Gratitude’s Army of Volunteers and honor the memories of these fallen heroes by showing your support and appreciation of police officers, firefighters, and EMTs currently serving in NYPD, FDNY, and as first responders across the country.
It is a big ask, but we need an influx of 60,000 letters to lift the spirits of the frontline heroes we will impact in NYC and other communities requesting OG’s support.
Thank you for making every day a day on with Operation Gratitude!