Stay the Course

For the past few weeks, we have been focused on the very reason Operation Gratitude was started 18 years ago — ensuring that Deployed Troops know they are not forgotten, especially during the holidays. Think about what we are accomplishing with you. In the midst of a global pandemic, we are working tirelessly to assemble and deliver 20,000 individually addressed Care Packages to service members in every corner of the world.

As we stay the course and work non-stop to get the last few thousand Care Packages out the door, we must also remember all of the nurses, doctors, and medical support staff who have been working tirelessly for months, too.

Our healthcare heroes are battling fatigue and exhaustion in the face of a second wave of COVID, like Dr. Varon in Houston who has reported for duty more than 260 days without a day off. It is not surprising that many doctors and nurses can barely remember the recognition, cheers, and appreciation they received this spring and summer for their selfless service and sacrifice. As Dr. Gold in Missouri so aptly states in this NY Times article, “Nobody’s clapping anymore. They’re over it.”

Let me be clear. At Operation Gratitude we are all still clapping, and we are NOT over it. It is time to show every exhausted healthcare worker that there are millions of us who still care about them and support them. We know that they cannot stop their life-saving work on the “medical battlefield,” so we will not stop showing our gratitude. We recognize the sacrifices they have made including time spent away from their own families, as they served our communities day in and day out for the past nine months.

Last week we heard a common call to action from both First Lady Melania Trump and First Lady Elect Dr. Jill Biden. When Dr. Biden joined Operation Gratitude to assemble Care Packages for Deployed Troops at the Armory in D.C., she expressed hope that every American would commit to an act of kindness in the spirit of gratitude this holiday season. Mrs. Trump issued a similar call that same day, noting that small acts of kindness can go a long way in spreading cheer and helping those who are struggling during the holidays.

Our doctors and nurses are among those struggling; and like our Deployed Troops, many of them will not be home with their loved ones for the holidays.

So our call to action is the same — we’re asking you to perform a simple act of kindness for our healthcare heroes. Please take just a few hours each day this week to write letters of appreciation and send them to Operation Gratitude, so we can include them in the care packages we send to hospitals across the country.

As we celebrate the holidays with our own families, let’s show our doctors and nurses that we are still clapping and shouting our appreciation from the rooftops in support of them. They need us just as much as we need them in this prolonged fight against an invisible enemy.

Below are just a few of the hundreds of photos and emails we’ve received from healthcare heroes whose spirits you’ve lifted with acts of kindness and gratitude.

Thank you for staying the course with us during these challenging times.

We wanted to share our thanks and how the thank you cards from your group are displayed for our staff. 

Thank you SO much to the wonderful volunteers at Operation Gratitude! We, health care workers are very touched to receive your care packages. This has been such a trying time for our world, country and nursing profession. To know our work and efforts are appreciated truly means so much!!!

Sincere thanks,
Folsom Kaiser Caregivers

And these healthcare heroes who are also active duty enlisted sailors:

Thank you very much for such amazing care packages!!! Everything you do for veterans, active duty and retired, are appreciated and we are very thankful for you all to take the time and put these events together for us. Happy Holidays!

-Enlisted Staff from Naval Medical Center San Diego

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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.