It is difficult to adequately capture in words the impact that Operation Gratitude makes on the lives of millions of Americans each year. Many people who don’t fully understand our mission and vision measure the difference we make by the number of care packages we deliver to our military, veteran, and first responder heroes. But our impact is much more profound and far-reaching than the smiles we’ve brought to the faces of more than 3.2 million service men and women since 2003.
With each smile, there are dozens more realized on the faces of families and friends who are comforted that their loved ones feel appreciated, understood, and connected to their communities. This ripple effect is being felt across our nation, and we are beginning to see the lasting impact of bringing communities together through repeated service and simple acts of gratitude. Beyond every “thank you” exchanged, we are forging strong bonds between those who serve and the citizens they protect.
One only needs to look back at what we did as an organization during a global pandemic to understand the true potential of Operation Gratitude. In tangibly impacting 800,000 deployed troops, veterans, and frontline heroes since the outbreak of COVID and giving a sense of purpose and hope to more than one million volunteers, we provided much-needed support, and in many cases, a lifeline to millions of Americans at a time of their greatest need.
As a result of our actions and consistent impact, Operation Gratitude is poised to achieve a much bigger vision in the coming years. A nation united through service and gratitude.
Over the past week, we saw further glimpses of that vision in DC and NYC — communities united through service and gratitude. Just look at these photos and you will see the full potential of our organization realized on the faces of young Americans serving alongside veterans, military families, and first responders. They are full of determination, purpose, and hope.
Together with DC Youth Challenge, Law Enforcement Explorers, partners at Starbucks, and hundreds of volunteers, we assembled 10,000 care packages for deployed troops around the world as well as NYPD officers in Brooklyn and National Guardsmen serving at the country’s largest vaccination site in Manhattan.
See the Impact
Operation Gratitude partnered with Starbucks for our Military Appreciation Month Assembly Day at the DC National Guard Armory. We were joined by the Secretary of the VA, Denis McDonough, 14 veterans serving in Congress representing the bi-partisan For Country Caucus, and DC Youth Challenge. Serving together with Team OG and more than 150 volunteers, we assembled 5,000 individually addressed care packages for deployed troops around the world.
Building on our successes and our impact in DC, we joined 100 more volunteers in NYC in partnership with NYPD and Law Enforcement Explorers to assemble and deliver 5,000 care packages for 3,800 police officers in North Brooklyn and 1,200 National Guardsmen serving at the NYC Armory and the Javits Center, one of the world’s largest vaccination sites.
Read the Impact
The email below from an elementary school near Jacksonville, Florida is a great example of how Operation Gratitude’s impact is rippling in communities nationwide:
I first want to thank you for writing to us at Tynes Elementary in Clay County, FL. As we have over 200 military families in our school, I began researching military-connected organizations so our kids would have opportunities to build fortitude and resilience while supporting our troops. Many of our kids have family members on deployment, so they understand the importance of paying it forward. Our kids AKA “Tynes Tigers” loved making the cards for the troops so far from home and their families.
The activity also strengthened their relationships with each other as they began having conversations about how many times they had to move to a new state or city; how hard it’s been to start over once again, having to make new friends. The conversations built bridges between them. Self-esteem greatly improved. So, as we have supported your program, you have supported ours. And for that, I am truly grateful.
Sincerely, S.R., Tynes Elementary School
As an organization, we will always say thank you to those who serve. It is who we are. It is part of our DNA. But as an organization that is also uniquely positioned to bridge the civilian-service divide, we now have a responsibility to go a step beyond saying “thank you for your service.” By giving Americans of all ages — in and out of uniform, from every walk of life — opportunities to serve together, make meaningful connections, and appreciate one another, we will build understanding, empathy, and ultimately bridges in communities nationwide.