Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try, we can never manage to “out thank” the men and women who serve, protect and defend our country. Operation Gratitude’s team of staff, donors and volunteers ship Care Packages to them as expressions of our deep appreciation for the work they do, and they send their messages of thanks back to us. It’s a wonderful “cycle of gratitude” — one that continues week after week and year after year.
In December, with generous help from sponsors like USAA and CSX, and with donations of both “wish list” items and precious time from volunteers and supporters all across the country, Operation Gratitude shipped 25,000 Care Packages to Deployed Troops, Veterans, First Responders, New Recruits, Military Children, and Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers. To our delight, we heard back from many, and here are some of their sweet and heartfelt replies:
I am in possession of one of your amazing care package boxes filled with wonderful and useful items. I am Master Sergeant L. P. L. G., a 5 year veteran of prior active duty U.S. Army and currently a 17 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserves assigned to Guam. This is my 4th deployment and I am proud to continue to provide vital support of all operations to ensure the protection and freedom for our great citizens of the United States of America I want to personally thank each and everyone involved with “Operation Gratitude”. Your commitment and true patriotism to give our deployed members the happiness when being away from family will never be forgotten. If only I could reach out to everyone to say, “Thank you” for letting us feel that we are truly appreciated. I salute you all!!! — MSgt L. P. L. G., Operation Spartan Shield
“I can’t express how much I appreciate the care package. It came at a point when I have been at my lowest. This past year has held many tough time as caregiver and wounded warrior, with good memories that carry us through. This Christmas season after surgeries. Living 5 1/2 months in the Fisher House, then moving doing most things myself as hubby was physically unable to help. Then we lost 9 of our military family we lived with, cried with and prayed with since October 2nd. All I can say is we felt all alone in this world, making my role ad caregiver so depressing. If it weren’t for God and folks like you, I am not sure many of us could go on. This package was such a surprise and a bright star in the struggle and life saving from feeling alone in this world. I could say more, but I know you understand the struggle. Thank you so much. Know even though I am smiling in the pictures, my heart shedding tears of gratitude to you all, coming at a time of my greatest need”.– RC, Caregiver, Elgin, TX
I am a Sailor aboard the USS MOBILE BAY, and recently I was reassured by an act of kindness. Operation Gratitude is a new concept to me, as this is my 3rd deployment and my first to receive such a thoughtful gift. I wanted to express my gratitude for all of your volunteers, staff, and those who took the time to send my shipmates and I all of these care packages, which all came as a complete surprise. You provided a moment in which we all could feel at home. Merry Christmas and God Bless you all. Forever grateful. — CS2(SW) N.K.
Hello and Happy Holidays from the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. I would like to personally thank you for taking the time to coordinate, find resources, put together and send off this wonderful care package my soldiers received today! While our units (including Task Force Sinai and the Hawaii National Guard) continue to facilitate the Multinational Force and Observers, Treaty of Peace Mission, derived from the Camp David Accords (between Israel and Egypt), they are away from family and friends during this holiday season. Your kind and caring hearts were felt across a vast stretch of miles when they received your care package. It brought many smiles to the soldiers and the local workforce that work in our section. Your gracious efforts will be felt for months to come, as these items will be a reminder that “someone” out there cares for these soldiers who choose to serve their country regardless of the time or season. Once again, thank you for being so generous, by offering your time and effort to provide comfort to those who are far, far, away this year. — C. K. M., MAJ, MI. MFO CJ2/TFS S2, MAJ C.M. MFO-SC 2
From the USS Germantown (LSD 42) Repair Division, Sasebo , Japan we would like to say thank you for the awesome care packages. Thank you for all that you do, words can’t express the gratitude that we have right now being deployed and away from family and friends. For some of the Sailors onboard this will be their first year away during the holiday season. To know that someone on the other side of the world was thinking about them makes it somewhat easy. For some to hear their name called out during mail call and to see the look on their face is priceless. It’s organizations like this that make us feel great about the decisions we made to serve our country. Again thank you from the Repair Division onboard USS Germantown Sasebo, Japan. — LT S. T., USS GERMANTOWN (LSD-42)
Thank You! This package arrived on Christmas Eve when I was having a rough time. The thoughtfulness and care that was shown by strangers not only made me cry while reading the letter, but lifted my spirits. The tissues came in handy. During this time of year, when stress pushes us to our limits, it’s nice to know that somebody, somewhere, knows what we are going through. And for that, I am grateful to everyone involved. Thank you so much. — C.T., Caregiver
I wanted to take the time and thank you for the wonderful boxes you and your crew put together for our entire ship and myself. All those hours invested really paid off once the boxes got here. I don’t know if you had an idea of how lifted people’s spirits would be the moment they would open the boxes to find fidget toys, transformers, and magic game cards. I did not see one person on the ship without a smile, eating candy, while playing with their toys — almost like it was Christmas day. Well, I hope this gives a bit of gratitude back to the man hours spent collecting, boxing, and distributing, not to mention getting people to donate their good earned money to make all of this happen. Thank you so much! I feel blessed to know that people care that we are out here, and my family is not alone when they are grateful for my service. Thank you so much for your support!! — C. F., LS1 (SW), USS Mobile Bay
I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to all the folks at Operation Gratitude for their gracious supply of care packages for our Marines forward deployed to Rota. It put smiles on their faces to hear that they not only had mail, but a care package waiting for them to pick up! The wonderful people of Operation Gratitude are making a tremendous difference for our servicemen and women deployed during the holidays, and it reminds them that there are many grateful Americans like those at Operation Gratitude thinking about them. I have attached a picture of the platoon just after receiving their packages. I hope you all enjoy! Thank you again, and Merry Christmas to Operation Gratitude! Semper Fidelis, Captain B.G., U.S Marine Corps
Hello! My name is S. B. I am currently in Camp Buehring Kuwait and I received one of the holiday packages. I am extremely grateful and thank you from the bottom of my heart. The products in the box will be used by myself and members of my squad. My favorite part of the box were the thank you cards especially the one that you can tell was done by a child. Thank you again and happy holidays, — S. B., Camp Buerhing Kuwait
We received your wonderful care packages today here at the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Bagram AF, Afghanistan. These packages were a wonderful surprise and brought smiles to all our faces. Thank you very much for the generosity, love, and hard work that went in to making each of these boxes! You have brightened our Holidays and made us feel appreciated and loved! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! — Major J.C., CCATT RN
Dear Wonderful People: Thank you from VQ-1 in Bahrain for the wonderful and thoughtful gifts! Y’all really lift our spirits! I am proud to stand the watch for you! Very Respectfully, LTJG R. W.
I recently received a care package from Operation Gratitude. I wanted you to be aware of how much we appreciate you guys taking time to put these together and ship them. Each package serves as a reminder that we are not forgotten though we are very far away. I know no matter what I’m doing to advance our mission overseas, that you appreciate us and are counting on us. — MSgt E. W., United States Air Force
I wanted to take a little time to express MY gratitude to each and every person at Operation Gratitude. It isn’t just the tangibles in the box; it is the time and thought people put into building it and shipping it. It reminds us that there are great patriots back in the states who do not forget that we are out here. Complete strangers of a sort, but we are all Americans and it is one of many traits that separates our great nation from all other nations. The looks on the faces of the our NATO and foreign allies is always one of complete confusion. “Who sent that to you? You mom, your wife, friends?” When we try to explain that it is from fellow Americans we never met, their astonishment never ends. And I love it. Thank you for the letters Jamille, Russell R. of Burlingame, CA. Cadet Eddy C. of SF Valley from James Monroe HS. — J.J.W. PMP, Military Senior Advisor ANCOF/ABF
Thank you so much for the generous boxes and warm wishes. Attached please find two photos of much appreciated items I received from Operation Gratitude. Thank you for the reminders of home! — R. J. G. II, LTC, MS, USMH-K, CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT
Where do I even begin? I wanted to contact you and say thank you for the care package that you sent out. I am currently deployed in the UAE, and we receive care packages weekly, but this one, my god this one hit me right in the heart. Please let your volunteers know that I read everything. All the letters, notes, kind words, I read it all. It made me feel so good and put a huge smile on my face. I know sometimes doing something like this you may feel, “Oh they’ll never read this. This doesn’t mean anything sharing basic stuff about myself.” Honestly, it did mean something. It made me feel honored to know that what we are doing here is appreciated back home. Respectfully, SrA C., M., 380 ESFS/S3O
Thank you so much!!!! Love all of my snacks and the cards are so sweet!!!!!! We are currently in Iraq, and your package made my day! E.R., Iraq
As Operation Gratitude’s Director of Social Media, I am one of a very small number of staff members who has the honor and privilege of reading through and replying to many of the email messages that are sent our way. The added joy of my particular job is then sharing those special messages and photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you’re not already doing so, I hope you will follow us on one or more of those sites to keep up with and read about the impact your generosity and support has on those who receive Operation Gratitude Care Packages — and then I hope you’ll share our cause with your friends, family and co-workers.
It’s a new year, and that means all of us at Operation Gratitude have more work to do saying “thank you” to all who serve and have served….THANK YOU for joining us!
Director of Social Media