Surrounded by more than 500 cheering volunteers, the sister of a Marine was surprised to learn that she was packing the 350,000th Care Package on the Operation Gratitude Assembly Line at the National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, CA. during the 2008 Memorial Day Weekend.”This package represents the extraordinary generosity and efforts of our supporters–American Citizens from every state of this great nation,” exclaimed founder, Carolyn Blashek. “Their donations of time, Wish List items and funds for postage have enabled us to send more than 2.8 Million pounds of product and over 17 Million individual items to our brave men and women fighting on the front lines” she stated.
Blashek, surrounded by the 70 “Hard Corps” Volunteers who supervise the production and Assembly Line operations, paid special tribute to our fallen Warriors and their families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. She thanked the more than 300 Corporate Friends and Sponsors who have donated items by the pallet load, and acknowledged the dedicated and cooperative efforts of other grass-roots, all-volunteer organizations such as Give 2 The Troops and Treat the Troops (The Cookie Lady) that have similarly supported our Military for many years.
“We applaud the massive one day goal by the great folks at Move America Forward to best our annual 110,000 individually addressed care package shipments” declared Bill Van Trump, Operation Gratitude’s Volunteer Director of Development, but he added, “We are most proud of the tens of thousands of Operation Gratitude volunteers across the country who, week after week, month after month, year after year since the Iraq War started in March 2003, have toiled tirelessly to ensure that every Service Member deployed overseas knows they are always foremost on our minds and will never be forgotten.”
To culminate the organization’s record-breaking Patriotic Drive, Volunteer Director of Operations, Charlie Othold, announced that Operation Gratitude and Chrysler LLC would present a specially designed 2008 Jeep Liberty to SPC Michael “Shaun” Gallagher on July 1 at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
“Carolyn (Blashek) and I were honored to travel to Iraq earlier this year to personally hand our 300,000th Care Package to SPC Gallagher at Camp Warhorse in Baquoba,” recalled Othold. “We are thrilled that he and his comrades have returned home safely and that we can give him this appropriately named vehicle, the Jeep Liberty, in time to celebrate America’s Independence Day on July 4th” he added.
Operation Gratitude will send its 400,000th Care Package on December 13, 2008 during the organization’s Annual Holiday Drive.