Every Day is a Day On: Moved to Action

The Every Day is a Day On series spotlights volunteers at Operation Gratitude who are moved to action to support servicemen and women, their families, and first responders.

The fifth blog in this series features Regina Bevacqua from California. Prior to the pandemic, Regina was volunteering at Operation Gratitude’s warehouse, the FOB. She would also consistently volunteer at our monthly care package assembly days. Regina worked in the knits section, rolling handmade with love items and assembling them into care packages.

This is Regina’s story…

Volunteer displays boxes of donated items.

Regina Bevacqua began volunteering with Operation Gratitude in 2020. A friend’s neighbor told Regina about assembly days at the old armory location. It sounded fun, so Regina began to attend assembly days herself. She even brought her nephews who are active-duty service members. 

Getting Involved in Volunteerism

Some of Regina’s early involvement with Operation Gratitude also included crocheting scarves. Upon delivering her scarf donations, Regina saw volunteers participating on a regular basis. She thought this might be a great opportunity for her as well. Regina took a tour of the FOB, Operation Gratitude’s warehouse in California. She saw many opportunities to volunteer. After her orientation, she was raring to go in the knits section.

At first, Regina was unsure about the commitment to become a full-time volunteer. She was largely convinced by fellow volunteer Donna Snell and other team members. Regina committed to Operation Gratitude as a blue shirt volunteer in 2020, just before the FOB went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Volunteers show up because they have a genuine desire to do good and to show their gratitude through volunteering.

Regina has been proud to pivot with Operation Gratitude during the pandemic. She does similar work to pre-pandemic volunteer work, except now she volunteers from home. She said that “seeing all of the amplified efforts to support first responders, health care workers, and police are special.” 

When asked how volunteering at Operation Gratitude has impacted her, Regina said that “seeing the letters that are included with the scarves are inspiring and extremely heartfelt. It’s important to give back for people’s sacrifices and it moves me to take action.”

Handwritten letters for military and first responder heroes being organized on the kitchen table.

While she is serving the military, first responders, and their families, Regina is also giving back to her service-oriented family–her father, an Army veteran, and her active duty nephews in the Air Force and Army.

Assembly Days

Regina has also been impacted by the assembly days that she used to volunteer at. At a typical assembly day, 600-1,200 volunteers assemble around 15,000 care packages in a three-hour period.

Regina remembers one Family Day in particular–a day where kids are taught the power of volunteerism. During that assembly event, Regina was working in the Battalion Buddy Bears section. She saw six high school students sitting together at a table quality-controlling the bears and having a great time. 

Volunteers quality control Battalion Buddy Bears.
Operation Gratitude Family Day, November 2019

She asked them, “Why are you doing this? Are you meeting a graduation requirement?”

They said, “No. We are here because we wanted to be!” 

Continued Volunteerism

This experience attests to Regina’s belief that the people are what make Operation Gratitude so special.

Volunteers show up because they have a genuine desire to do good and to show their gratitude through volunteering.

Handwritten letters for military and first responder heroes being organized on the kitchen table.

Regina has begun to view the world differently. Operation Gratitude has provided Regina with purpose. She is now moved to action as she fosters that purpose and light in others through her hands-on volunteerism.

This post was written by Jake Kelly, a communications intern at Operation Gratitude. Jake is from the Chicago suburbs and is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut pursuing a Bachelor’s in Journalism & History with a minor in Political Science.

Read more in the Every Day is a Day On blog series.

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More Than Just a Hug

When I look back at my journey over the past 3 years and 8 months as the CEO of Operation Gratitude, the one thing that sticks out the most are the hugs.

They are etched in my memory forever — literally thousands of hugs at hundreds of service projects and community-building events — on too many trips, and in too many cities to count, from sea to shining sea.