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Battalion Buddies: Supporting the children of deploying troops

posted on May 09 2011 41 Comments

Hi Brave Young Warrior:
 I am your Battalion Buddy!
I am here to cuddle and play with you
while Mommy or Daddy is away!
And my friends at Operation Gratitude
will be sending a little something to
Mommy or Daddy, too!

Having already shipped more than 600,000 care packages to service men and women deployed in combat zones, Operation Gratitude is pleased to announce the launch of “Battalion Buddies” — a new program designed to serve and encourage the young children of deploying troops.

In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude will begin providing special stuffed toys – known as Battalion Buddies – to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy.

“Our hope is these gifts will offer some degree of comfort to children while their moms and dads are far away, serving their country,” explained Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek.  “We want the children to know that they too have caring friends across the country who are aware of their sacrifices and send their appreciation.”

Aided by an initial donation of 28,000 stuffed toys hand-made by employees of the McKesson Corporation, and a follow-up donation of the cards by Tobu Print Group, Operation Gratitude was inspired to provide Battalion Buddies by the Commanding Officer of the National Guard armory in which the group operates.  LTC Angel Ortiz, seeing the McKesson stuffed animals during a recent Care Package Assembly, asked whether Operation Gratitude could donate some for his units that would soon deploy.

“I realized these cuddly animals would be a perfect item for the children to hug as they were about to say ‘Good-bye’ to their parent,” said LTC Ortiz.  “In addition, the animals would be a beautiful gift from the American people to say ‘Thank You’ to the military children who serve our nation in their own special and courageous way.”

As with its Care Packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddies program will provide every American opportunities to encourage the children of troops serving in combat by donating stuffed toys and contributing funds.

A great volunteer activity with kids, friends and/or co-workers is to make a Battalion Buddy from a kit!  Kits to make stuffed animals can be found online.  One such website is Bday Bears.

Those wishing to donate brand-new stuffed toys (ready-made or from a kit) to be used as Battalion Buddies may send them to the following address: 

Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Financial donations are welcome and may be made online here: Donate to Battalion Buddies or by check made payable and addressed to:

Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311

U.S. Military: We are happy to send the Battalion Buddies to all the children of a deploying or deployed unit upon **request from the rear detachment and/or family readiness officer. Please have the command contact us at [email protected]  so we can make arrangements directly with them for a shipment. (At this time, we do not have the resources to send the Buddies to individual children.)

Looking for more ways to support the troops? Visit our website or click on 10 Easy Ways to Support the Troops

THANK YOU for your generosity and support — we couldn’t do what we do for the troops and military families without YOUR HELP!

**Please Note: We greatly appreciate the service and sacrifice of all military families, but the specific intent of Battalion Buddy packages is to provide comfort to those children who will not get to see their parent for a long time and need something to hold on to. Please understand our very limited resources limit our ability to broaden this program at this time.


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  3. Annie

    posted @ 03.19.2012

    I reflagged this post because I’ve many friends who are military spouses or in the military themselves, they are a tight-knit community; but their children need all the support they can receive. They thank you from the bottom of your hears.

  4. Annie

    posted @ 03.15.2012

    Reblogged this on LUPUS CHRONICLES and commented:
    This subject material is NOT on topic, AT ALL, but it is a good example of how we need support in all kinks of strife. Offer support to those who are in need.

  5. Annie

    posted @ 03.15.2012

    I live in a military town and have friends with spouses in the military. When mommy and/or daddy are deployed the children act out and this would be of comfort to the small children. I’ll have to pass it on!

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 03.15.2012

      Thank you! We’d love to be able to reach out to more military families in this way — we are grateful for your help getting the word out!

  6. alicia bergey

    posted @ 01.12.2012

    GOD Bless ALL of you that make this possible ! What an amazing and true way to show support for our children who also are dealing with the hardships of deployment. My husband’s company is preparing to deploy and at the pre-deployment meeting I passed along the info. Thank you everyone again. If you need anything from us please let me know and I will pass it along to frg so they can keep @the chain of command” LOL going so that the word is spread to keep this gift going as far as funding,resources & blessing many other brave soldiers and children. Its the little things like that that bring comfort during difficult times. Red shirt reissue are another way to show our support & gratitude til all our troops are home safely. Thank you again

  7. Leeann McDaniel

    posted @ 12.7.2011

    My name is Leeann, and my dad has been in the USN since before I was born (I’m 26). He recently returned from his final deployment (retires in January), and it was pretty tough on MY kids who are VERY close to their “Poppy” (grandfather). This is an amazing program for the children, and as a navy brat I can say that with all the moving around, changing schools, and sadness when my dad would leave, these animals would have helped, ALOT 🙂

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  10. Jennifer

    posted @ 11.11.2011

    I love it! We are going through our first deployment and little reminders of daddy really help. I’m not sure my four year old really believes me when I say he is actually coming back.

    I’m sure these little cuddly guys will help a lot of children. I may just have to try my hand at sewing a bear.

  11. Crystal

    posted @ 11.7.2011

    Hi, my dad was in the Army for 20 years and I know how hard it is to be a milatary kid. I wish they would have had a program like this when I was a kid. What you are doing here is absolutely wonderful!! I love to sew, knit, and crochet and would love to send over some handmade stuffed animals. What are the guidelines as far as the stuffed animals are concerned? Do they have to be sewn or can I crochet one? What size do they need to be? Thank you 🙂

  12. kayla duff

    posted @ 11.6.2011

    I love what you are doing.

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  14. The BabbyMama

    posted @ 11.1.2011

    Someone just sent me your link, and I think it’s absolutely fantastic what you’re doing! I have two brothers in the military, not deployed at the moment, but I know how hard it can be on families! So THANKS 🙂

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 11.1.2011

      We are honored to be able to support military families in this way….Thank you for your kind comment!

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  16. Tiffany Cloutman

    posted @ 10.28.2011

    Thank you Battalion Buddies. My children received their Battalion Buddies this morning and have been playing with them every since. Your support and help is much appreciated.

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 10.28.2011

      You are so very welcome, Tiffany! We are glad to know your children are enjoying their new Buddies! 🙂 We are grateful to your family for the sacrifices you are making in service to our country, and it is an honor for us to be able to support you in this way.

  17. Tiffany Phillips

    posted @ 10.16.2011

    Thank You! My children received a Battalion Buddy last night at their Halloween Party. My son woke up this morning still holding his Buddy in his arms. You made one very happy little Red Falcon!

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 10.18.2011

      Tiffany, we’re so glad to know you son loves his Battalion Buddy! We are grateful to your whole family — it’s an honor to be able to support you. Thank YOU.

  18. Cheri Hustead

    posted @ 09.28.2011

    Have you ever seen “Parapup” by Elisa Vertuli? It’s a great book to give kids who are dealing with deployment and comes with a puppy who brings letters/gifts back and forth between kids and parents. These dogs already have military clothing and come with the book. Another GREAT resource for military kids! Look them up on Facebook! Name is Parapup.

  19. loopyloo305

    posted @ 09.23.2011

    This is a wonderful program Barb. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I also wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Versatile Bloggers award. Please visit my site The Christian Gazette http://thechrisitiangazette for instructions on how to pick it up. Loopy!

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  21. Linda

    posted @ 09.9.2011

    I know you are getting a lot of animals, but the clothing probably does not come with the animal. Is there a pattern? I sew and could make some of this – it looks pretty easy.

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 09.9.2011

      Thank you, Linda! You’re correct — the stuffed animals do not come with the cute clothing you see in many of our photos. We don’t have a pattern to share with you because the toys are different shapes and sizes and what works for one might not work for others. Thank you for your kind offer — if we hear of a “one size fits all” type of pattern, we will definitely post the information here.

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  24. Christine Hughes

    posted @ 07.6.2011

    hi you can have some off my soft toys 4 the childen i have lots off them a very big thank you

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  26. Stacie Claus

    posted @ 05.16.2011

    How can I get a contact phone/email for this? I’m FRG Secretary for my husbands unit and we are gearing up for another deploy.
    And thank you for all you do!

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 05.16.2011

      Stacie: Please email opgrat -at- gmail.com to request information and details.

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  28. Michael O'Connell

    posted @ 05.11.2011

    My Dad was a US Navy Sea Bee when I was a kid. They did not have anything at all like this. It definitely would have been a good program. Please let me know if there is anything that I might be able to assist you with to make this program grow and continue to run.
    God Bless you All, and All of Our Service Men and Women! Thank you for protecting us and our Freedom and Liberty!

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 05.11.2011

      Thank you, Michael. We are just getting off the ground with the Battalion Buddies program — so far, so good! Donations of brand-new stuffed toys and finances to help pay shipment costs will be what we need most to keep it going. We appreciate your support!

  29. Janean Endraske

    posted @ 05.10.2011


    My Nephew, SSGT Rodriguez, Jonathan L., is currantly stationed in Afganistan, Marine Unit 73915. I was wondering if you would be able to send all the children in that unit a Battalion Buddy? It would mean a lot to me. Thank you for supportting our Troops.

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 05.10.2011

      Janean, we’d be happy to send Battalion Buddies to the children in your nephew’s unit if we receive a request from the rear detachment and/or family readiness officer. Please have the command contact us via email — opgrat -at – gmail.com — so we can make arrangements directly with them for a shipment. Thank you!

  30. Jennifer saunders

    posted @ 05.10.2011

    I am looking to see where i can get battalion buddies…i have 3 boys and their dad is about to deploy.

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 05.10.2011

      Jennifer, we are happy to send Battalion Buddies to all the children of a deploying or deployed unit upon request from the rear detachment and/or family readiness officer. Please have the command contact us via email — opgrat -at – gmail.com — so we can make arrangements directly with them for a shipment. At this time, we do not have the resources to send the Buddies to individual children. Thank you for your understanding.

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