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Roadway to the Rescue

posted on May 04 2007 0 Comments


LA Daily News May 4, 2007
Dennis McCarthy
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes story from Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude, which has sent more than 200,000 care packages in the past four years to troops overseas and those in hospitals back home.

Two items that will be in the packages being collected for the troops this Memorial Day weekend will be 55,000 decks of playing cards and more than 6,000 Beanie Babies that soldiers can give to kids in Iraq and Afghanistan to help win their trust and get them to tell where landmines have been buried.

“Seniors from all over Michigan collected bulk playing cards from the casinos in the Midwest, then took them to senior centers to be sorted into decks,” Blashek said. “The problem was, they could not afford the close to $10,000 to ship them to us. Meanwhile, a Girl Scout troop in New Berlin, Wis., not only sold Girl Scout cookies for us, but organized a Beanie Baby collection drive after reading the letter from a Marine on our Web site about Beanies saving the lives of troops.

“The girls collected 32 barrels of Beanies, but the shipping was going to cost several thousand dollars they didn’t have,” Blashek said. When officials at Roadway, a national shipping company, heard the story, they sent a truck to Michigan that then went on to Wisconsin to collect the items and drive them out to Van Nuys for free. Nice touch, Roadway.

The May 26 and 27 drive will be held at the California Army National Guard Armory, 17330 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. For information on donating or volunteering, log on to www.operationgratitude.com.


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