School’s Out for Summer: Time to Make a Difference!

Yesterday I learned an amazing fact that I found so compelling, I wanted to share it with you: Operation Gratitude’s volunteer force stands strong at 350,000 volunteers! The number is staggering, especially when you look at how far we have come since our humble beginnings.

When Carolyn Blashek launched her mission to honor our service members in 2003, she had a small but devoted group of friends who jumped in to help. The tales of her living room piled sky high with donated products are legendary (and true!). I had the great privilege of joining Carolyn as we walked around and around her dining room table filling care packages. The first day that I volunteered at Carolyn’s house we assembled 20 care packages. Flash forward to our recent care package assembly day, when over 12,000 packages were assembled, bringing our total care package count to 2,079,571!

Carolyn’s inspiration and desire to give has clearly become infectious. From every corner of the country, grateful Americans have been given the opportunity to show their deep appreciation to all those who serve. Two of our outstanding volunteers, just 10 years old, had a vision of their own and inspired a new program for Operation Gratitude. Mercera and Madeleine were on a mission to raise funds to send care packages to the troops once they learned that many service members can’t be with their families during the holidays. Their small fundraising plans turned into an $1844.81 donation, and our Cents for Service program was born!

Mercera and Madeleine embody the spirit of Operation Gratitude. In that spirit, we invite you to join our team of 350,000 this summer and to participate in your own Service ProjectsParents, Camp Counselors, Scout Leaders and Church Leaders are always looking for fun, creative, inexpensive ways to keep children engaged in the summer.  Whether you are a student, family, individual or group, Operation Gratitude has a wonderful solution, and we welcome you to join our growing volunteer ranks!

Some ideas: get crafty at camp and create Paracord Survival Bracelets, host a Collection Drive of Wish List items, write letters to the troops, ask your local librarian to set up a Letter Writing table, or spend quality family time on a Volunteer Project.  You can even host a healthy competition for ‘most letters written’ or ‘paracord bracelets made.’ Create challenges and chart your progress! If you are local to our Chatsworth, CA facility please join us for an onsite Volunteer experience.

We are active on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and if you use one or more of these social media sites, please post or tweet your photos and be sure to use the hashtag #OperationGratitude.  If you post on Facebook, please add @operationgratitude to your post so we can find and like your photos!

For more information and assistance, please feel free to reach out to the team at info@operationgratitude.com and we’d be delighted to help!

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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.