In Their Own Words: The Impact of a Care Package

The contents of Operation Gratitude Care Packages are intentional and thought out in order to not only be comforting, but practical for the military, first responder, and healthcare heroes who receive them. One former San Jose police officer says that was especially true for him–even months after the fact. 

At the end of the day, donating 15 to 20 minutes of your time could mean the world to somebody.

Giuseppe Altadonna

Giuseppe Altadonna now works for the NYPD, but says it was while he was serving as a Community Service Office in San Jose in 2018 that he received his first Operation Gratitude Care Package, complete with a paracord bracelet, handwritten letter of appreciation, snacks, and energy supplements. Altadonna says he tucked the pouch away in his work bag and was able to call on it in the midst of an extended and critically-important shift.

“I was dispatched to a motor vehicle accident with a fatality and it was a long day. Me and my partner were already working 12-plus hours at that point. We didn’t get a meal break and we were both tired…I remember going in my backpack and [telling my partner] ‘I’ve got a 5-hour ENERGY for both me and you.’ So, it ended up keeping us alert and able to go for another five or six hours that night. It definitely came in handy and I’ll never forget that red pouch.”

First Responder Care Pouch Recipients – 2018

The Operation Gratitude package and the care that went into assembling it had such a profound impact on Altadonna that he still has parts of it three years later, including the personal note from an Operation Gratitude volunteer, the paracord bracelet he wears on duty, and the pouch it all came in. For him, it’s a reminder that there are people all over this country who still support his line of work, even after a tumultuous year like 2020. 

“To see that [volunteers and sponsors] are backing Operation Gratitude and backing first responders, it shows that not everybody joins that…mentality of hating on police and what we do. Because at the end of the day, I joined this field to help.”

Operation Gratitude & NYPD Assembly Event – January 2021

More recently, Altadonna had the opportunity to see the other side of Operation Gratitude’s care package program. He was able to see the impact of a care package when he participated in an Assembly Day with the NYPD where he helped prepare 7,000 care packages for other service members. He says that experience gave him new insight into the organization and added appreciation for volunteers nationwide, whether they spend hours assembling care packages or just a few moments writing a letter of gratitude.

“I would definitely thank them. At the end of the day, donating 15 to 20 minutes of your time could mean the world to somebody.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Operation Gratitude, visit our website

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Support, See, and Stand with Them

As you read these words, there are moms and dads saying goodbye to their kids at airports just like I did on January 25, 2008 when my oldest son Luke turned 13. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was on my way to Israel where I would spend the better part of my final year as a United States Marine. My youngest son, Jack, who was then 7, cried inconsolably, clutching the back of my neck and refusing to let go.

Every Day is a Day On: Struck with an Endless Purpose

Although crocheting is her favorite method of volunteerism, Sonyia enjoys sewing cool ties and drawstring bags. She’s also ventured into card making because of the many options for creativity and color.

Even while working a full-time job, Sonyia said “there’s not a day that goes by where I’m not doing something for Operation Gratitude. I just enjoy it so much.”