My first week as CEO of Operation Gratitude


Dear Friends,

In my first week as the new CEO of Operation Gratitude, it has become even more clear to me what makes this organization so special and why our work together is so important.

During my 20 years in the Marine Corps, I witnessed firsthand the impact that Care Packages and letters have on our Deployed Troops. But I never fully realized that those Care Packages were the expression of extraordinary support from communities large and small across this country — from individuals like you who want to express your appreciation to all who serve.

I want you to know that you are making a difference. Over the past few days, I’ve read dozens of letters and emails from the recipients of our Care Packages — from Military serving worldwide and from First Responders across the nation. They are deeply moved by your kindness and generosity… and so am I.

I’ve also been amazed by the passion and commitment of our talented staff and dedicated volunteers. In preparation this week for our Two Millionth Care Package Event, they redoubled their efforts on the ground in order to support the brave men and women battling the horrific fires in the surrounding communities of Southern California. In addition to activating Emergency Relief Efforts to collect critically needed items for thousands of First Responders currently in harm’s way, they asked to dedicate this milestone event in their honor.

Tomorrow, December 9th, with the help of patriotic citizens like you, Operation Gratitude volunteers will assemble 10,000 Care Kits for distribution to First Responders serving in the fire-ravaged areas and to Troops deployed overseas during the holiday season.

We hope you will join us, either in person or by watching online here: https://www.operationgratitude.com/2-million-packages/

From the first Operation Gratitude Care Package that was assembled 14 years ago on the dining room table of our Founder, Carolyn Blashek, to the Two Millionth Care Package and beyond, I am honored and humbled to be part of this incredible organization and to stand alongside you to serve all those who serve.

With Warmest Regards,

Kevin M. Schmiegel, CEO

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Channeling the Holiday Spirit this Summer

Amidst the heat of the summer, an image of logs crackling in the fireplace and casting a glow on stockings hung above is probably the last thing to come to mind for most people. But for Operation Gratitude and our growing army of volunteers nationwide, the holiday spirit is always in our thoughts.

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.