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Operation Gratitude Wraps Up Milestone Patriotic Drive

posted on Aug 06 2007 0 Comments


Operation Gratitude Wraps Up 2007 Patriotic Drive

Exciting Milestone Achieved

The 2007 Patriotic Drive drew to a close after thousands of volunteers propelled Operation Gratitude to a record milestone — sending its 250,000 package!!!

“I am so proud of each volunteer who contributed to the success of this Drive” declared Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude. “From the item collection and letter writing campaigns all across the country, to the sorting, inspecting and packaging of goods at the Armory, our volunteers are motivated by their patriotism and by a strong desire to express their respect and appreciation to our troops. They are a true inspiration to me and I am deeply grateful to each of them,” she continued.

“In order to reach the Quarter-Million mark during this Drive, the volunteers were determined to produce packages faster than ever before, and they did–1500 per hour” announced Charlie Othold, Director of Operations. “And our Corporate Donors outdid themselves in their generosity this year,” exclaimed Susan Hauser, Product Coordinator. “Our packages had more products than any other Drive and based on the feedback–the troops love all the variety,” she added.

Quarter Millionth Package Makes Major League Stop

Package Then Travels On to Iraq

SPC Sanchez On Saturday June 16th, Operation Gratitude celebrated the assembly of its 250,000th care package. That particular gift of love winged its way to one lucky recipient of the 16th Military Police Brigade during a ceremony at Al Faw Palace, in Iraq on July 24, but not before it made one major league stop along the way.
During a Military Appreciation Day pre-game ceremony on July 15 at Mets’ Shea Stadium in Queens, NY, the New York/Tri-State Jeep Dealers Association presented Operation Gratitude with symbolic keys to a 2007 Jeep Patriot Limited.

The “keys” went directly into the 250,000th care package, which was handed off to U.S. Postal Service reps who ensured a special delivery in 48 hours. And the Jeep, donated by the N.Y. Jeep Dealers’ Association in celebration of Operation Gratitude’s milestone, will be driven home by SPC Alfonso Sanchez, an MP currently deployed in Iraq, when he returns to the United States.

“We are proud and humbled to contribute to a great organization like Operation Gratitude that does so much good in support of our troops,” said Eric Neilsen, president of the New York Dealer Association. “The Jeep was originally developed to serve our military, and we are very pleased to be able to continue this tradition in a small way.”

Specialist Sanchez opened the box and found a brochure, a letter, several baseball hats and the keys to the vehicle.

my image “When they called my name I was shocked, stunned and I froze for a second double-checking that my last name was Sanchez,” he said. “I expected anything else but this vehicle. The first thing I saw when I opened the box was a Jeep brochure, but they give those at the Post Exchange. I was immediately nervous and shaky and couldn’t speak when I saw the keys. I don’t have enough words, but with all my heart thank you for all you do for us Soldiers. Thank you.”

Click here to watch videos of Specialist Sanchez receiving the special care package in Iraq. For the full story from a correspondent at the scene, click: Sanchez Story

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For the Multi-National Force-Iraq Story, click here.

In further support of Operation Gratitude’s mission, Tribune Broadcasting’s CW11/WPIX, the New York Mets, and Jeep are sponsoring the “2007 Letter Writing Campaign.” On September 17, one lucky writer’s letter will be chosen at random to be sent to SPC Sanchez and that writer will also drive home in a brand new 2007 Jeep Patriot Limited, which will be presented at Shea Stadium on September 30. Letters to U.S. Military members deployed overseas can be submitted by visiting CW11.com/Jeep. Each letter written through CW11.com/Jeep will serve as an entry form to the contest. The Sweepstakes is open to entrants who are, at the time of entry, licensed drivers who are legal residents, 18 years of age or older, and residing in NY, NJ or CT. Click for additional Sweepstakes Rules.


200,000th Package Recipent Visits Operation Gratitude

Marine Gunner Returns to Say Thanks in Person

http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=czql8ccab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.opgratitude.com/view_album.php?album=52 On June 30, Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Richards, recipient of Operation Gratitude’s 200,000th package, and his new wife, Ashley, paid a visit to say “thank you” to all of the volunteers of Operation Gratitude and to show them his brand new Dodge Caliber, which he received from Operation Gratitude and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. as part of the 200,000th package sent last December.
“There is no way to adequately say thank you for all that all of you have done,” declared Lance Corporal Richards. “Not only for me but for my fellow Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen who are still deployed. It means so much and makes such a difference to all of us to know that we are cared about,” he continued.

“It was such a pleasure to meet Lance Corporal Richards and his new bride,” exclaimed Marsha Roseman, Food and Catering Coordinator for Operation Gratitude. “They both jumped right in and started to assemble and label packages,” she added, “And they couldn’t stop smiling. Nor could we!” Click for more pictures.


Scouts Support Operation Gratitude

Boy and Girl Scouts Pitch In for Troop Support

Beanie Babies Operation Gratitude has been fortunate to receive the consistent support of boy and girl scouts from across the nation. They have organized collection drives, sold TONS of cookies for donation to Operation Gratitude (over 100,000 boxes during this Patriotic Drive alone!), worked at assembly days, and held letter-writing campaigns all to provide support from Troops to Troops.
Junior Girl Scout Troop #195 from Hales Corners, Wisconsin went even further: After reading the Marine’s letter on our web site explaining that Beanies had saved their lives, the scout troop organized a Beanie Baby collection drive. The girls collected 32 Barrels of Beanies which were included in the care packages!!

The smiles on the faces of these Sailors tell more of the story!
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Please help us spread this cheer during the Holiday Drive–start collecting Beanie Babies now!


Operation Gratitude Magazine A Huge Hit

Magazine Touches the Hearts of Many Troops

Magazine In addition to all the great products donated by our Sponsors and Supporters, every Patriotic Care Package this year contained a “first of its kind” item: the inaugural issue of the Operation Gratitude Magazine. Included in the Magazine were letters of support and encouragement from children, teens, loving parents, veterans, and caring friends; a description of how an Operation Gratitude care package is made (through the letters of the Volunteers that supervise the process), and a full 2- page color picture of the scores of American citizens that volunteered on an assembly day last December.
“Through the Magazine, the troops could see a small sampling of the enormous amount of love and dedication that goes into each package that they receive,” reports Roberta Van Trump, Production Assistant for the Operation Gratitude Magazine. “And the response from the troops has been overwhelming! They have really enjoyed this publication!” she added.

Here is one soldier’s description of what the magazine meant to her:

“I was sitting alone in my room feeling quite sorry for myself. Days off are the worst. I’m not around my co- workers, my roommate is gone and I realize how much I miss my husband, who is also deployed. That’s when I decided to open my Operation Gratitude package. It wasn’t the contents that touched me; it was reading the letters in Operation Gratitude Vol. 1, Issue 1 that had an impact. I also didn’t realize the magnitude and complexity of the operation involved with getting one box out to me. I had time to kill and actually did the “Find Everybody’s Nuts” word search. I had to fight back a tear when I read “I am loved by my fellow Americans.” Thank you for such an amazing organization. I realize now that I am never alone or forgotten by other Americans.” CPT. C.G.

Due to a shortened production schedule, work has already begun on the Holiday issue. We need letters from children and adults as soon as possible. Please express your appreciation by sending your cards and letters to:

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436


Operation Gratitude Sends Thanks to Veterans

New Project Supports Veterans From Previous Battles

Operation Gratitude has added a new project: “Letters of Thanks to Veterans”. This is separate from our main program that sends packages and letters to our troops currently serving overseas
The “Letters of Thanks to Veterans” program requests letters written to VETERANS, especially Vietnam Veterans, to thank them for their service to our country. Our goal is to send personal letters (no packages; letters only) of appreciation to the thousands of Veterans who served us in past conflicts and deserve to know we are grateful for their sacrifices.

Check out our web site for more information about the Letters to Veterans project.


How to Help Operation Gratitude

Work Continues Between Drives

There are many ways you can support Operation Gratitude during the “off season”. Check out the ideas listed below or stop in at our web site from time to time to learn about our new and current events.

Shop at the Operation Gratitude On-Line Store

Your Purchases Support the Troops


Shop at the newly remodeled Operation Gratitude On-line store for a wide variety of apparel and accessories. $5 from every item purchased will be donated to Operation Gratitude. You can help spread the word about Operation Gratitude and look great at the same time!


Recycling Supports the Troops Too!

Used Ink Jet Cartridges, Cell Phones and Video Games Support Operation Gratitude

http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=czql8ccab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.grcrecycling.com/OperationGratitude/phones/ Operation Gratitude benefits every time you use our web site to recycle your used cell phone, ink jet cartridges, lap top computers, PDA’s, Blackberries, video games and iPods.
Simply click on the recycle logos on our web site for more information on how to recycle. You can print shipping labels directly from the web site as well. If you would like to start an Operation Gratitude Recycling Program at your place of work, school, church or temple, we have posters, flyers and other materials available. Please call GRC Wireless Recycling at 877-744-3601 for details.


Contribute Financially

Each $10 donation Ships One Care Package

Operation Gratitude is a non-profit, all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization. 100% of all funds contributed are used to assemble and ship care packages to our brave service members in harm’s way. Our annual expenses for postage alone are over $1 Million. We need your help!!
Donations can be made by check payable to Operation Gratitude and sent to:
Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436

Click here to make online donations by credit card through Paypal.

New Web Site to Hold Contest–Cast Your Vote


To Help Operation Gratitude Win Funds!

The web’s newest military site, VA Joe, will contribute $2,000 to charitable military organizations this month in its Charity for Charities event. Site members can vote on their favorite charitable military organizations. The top four charitable organizations plus a randomly selected one will share the $2,000 VA Joe donation.
Operation Gratitude has been nominated for this contest. Visit the VAJoe Charity for Charities event between August 5 and 20 to register and cast your vote for Operation Gratitude!


Troops Are Still Receiving Our Packages


Many Write to Express Their Gratitude

http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=czql8ccab.0.0.9dmzolbab.0&p=http://www.opgratitude.com/view_album.php?album=53 The 2007 Patriotic Drive Packages are still arriving at their destinations. The troops feel our gratitude, and many of them take a moment to let us know what our package means to them. Here are just a few letters we have received. For more letters, check out the Mail Call section of the web site.

“First of all, thank you so much for the package! It really means a lot to all of us over here to know that there are people at home that care so much. We just found out that we have been extended for an extra 3 months, so your package came just in time to help keep the morale up of everyone that I work with. Please spread the word that the Soldiers are doing a great job over here and that they need all the support they can get! Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart and that of everyone I work with! ” A.P.


“I am a recipient of your extraordinary effort of loving heart and overflowing generosity. The card in the package has a picture with hundreds of people in it…and that just moves me to see so many volunteers joined together in such a noble effort. I would love to get to know each one individually, and thank them. Many of your donated items made it to the dirt poor people of Iraq. Many of the stuffed animals wound up in the hands of shoeless young Iraqi children. You will never know the impact you have made on our troops here in the field. How do you measure a soldier who opens one of your packages, and reads the card or letter and it brings tears to his or her eyes? May God bless you and richly reward you for all that you have done for the troops.” SGT S.

“I just received my care package today! I just wanted to say thank you and tell you how much it means to me and my fellow Marines. It’s people like you that make me so proud to serve. You’ve made a difference in my life. What you’re doing for our service men and women is a wonderful thing. Your kindness will not be forgotten. Thanks again. Take care and God Bless.” PFC MP

“I just want to take a minute from the war to say, “Thanks”. You have no idea how important mail is over here. And to receive a package from a caring person who doesn’t even know me–it’s like winning the lottery. For that God Bless You!! I would also like to say, “your organization is putting smiles on soldiers faces everywhere around the world.” Please continue the good work. We really need your support and once again, “Many thanks for supporting the Armed forces.” SGT WM


It’s Never to Early to Think About the Holiday…

The Holiday Drive That Is… Mark Your Calendars!

November 10, 2007 is the kick off assembly weekend for Operation Gratitude’s
2007 Holiday Drive. Now is the time to plan your item collection drives, write letters and organize fund raising efforts so that we can meet our goal of sending 60,000 packages to the troops in time for the holidays! The Holiday Drive Schedule is posted on our website.


We appreciate each of you for the support you have provided: donating funds and items, writing letters, conducting collection drives, recycling and simply spreading the word about our program. Every effort has been vital to our accomplishments. “Thank You” does not begin to express the true depth of our Gratitude to our Supporters.


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