It Starts with One Act of Kindness

“Commit to one act of kindness this holiday season” requested the next first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, as she helped assemble care packages in Washington, DC with Operation Gratitude for deployed servicemembers.

On December 10th, in her first in-person solo event since her husband, President-elect Joe Biden won the Presidential election, Dr. Biden was joined by the nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, and his wife at the DC Armory.  They helped fill the care packages with items lined up in a variety of boxes, which were sent off as a way to help spread holiday cheer.

Biden’s simple request, made through a face mask due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, to commit to one act of kindness is a theme echoed throughout time, especially during the holiday giving season.  During a global pandemic, it is more important than ever to focus our attention on what we truly value and reflect on what we are grateful for; instead of who we cannot see or what we cannot do.  We have had to find new ways to build relationships and cultivate a sense of community whether it be through a gift, a feeling, or an experience. It is time to focus on the light we have inside us and how we can share that positive energy with others. 

To commit to a simple act of kindness, perhaps you would consider an alternative way of giving to make spirits bright through virtual volunteerism.  Operation Gratitude will give you that opportunity through simple, tangible ways to express gratitude to service members and their families, veterans, and first responders.  The actions you take with us will cost you little in terms of finances or time but will make a big impact on the recipients of your gratitude and even your own well-being. 

Here are three ways you can make a difference:

Write Letters of Gratitude

Writing a letter is a meaningful way for Americans to show support for all who serve. It only takes five minutes of your day and brings lasting joy to the recipient.

During the ongoing crisis, Operation Gratitude will include thousands of handwritten letters of appreciation, love, and support with the much-needed hygiene and comfort items we are sending to those battling this invisible enemy.

Our 17 years of experience has shown that when morale is low, a note of appreciation means more than just about anything.  In these unprecedented times, our heroes need our unwavering support. Taking the time to put pen to paper and share your heartfelt thoughts can be what gets a Frontline Responder through a grueling shift. 

As one Army Officer separated from his family over the holidays shared:

“I cannot express in words what your Care Packages do for our soldiers. The letters I received today brought joy to an otherwise lonely heart.”

Make Paracord Braclets

By taking the time to craft a paracord bracelet, you are providing a hero with a tangible, lasting expression of your gratitude, and a symbol of the appreciation of grateful Americans everywhere.

This letter, sent from a deployed Marine on Christmas Day 2016, shows that though a paracord bracelet may seem small, its impact is big. 

“I am the Chaplain responsible for all Special Forces from every Branch of the Military. As of this moment, your Bracelets (including the one I keep on me) are represented in each of these countries. They are being worn by some of the most Elite Operators in the world. You should also know that beyond our American Forces they are being worn by Special Operations Service Members from Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and France.”

Paracord making is an excellent activity to do at home or virtually as a group to give-back while staying safe at home. You can purchase the cord in bundles of 5 by visiting Operation Gratitude’s eBay site.

Knit, Crochet, or Sew

There is something about receiving a handmade item that warms the heart. If you knit, crochet, or sew, we are calling on you to get out your needles and hooks and redouble your efforts during these challenging times.

One of the Operation Gratitude volunteers describes knitting scarves for Troops as her “COVID-19 anxiety buster”! If you love to craft, consider hand-making greeting cards so our Deployed Troops can write to their loved ones at home. 

Every Handmade With Love item is an expression of deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our recipients.

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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.