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Penny’s Purpose

On a Saturday morning at the end of a very long COVID year, I had a conversation with one of our volunteers that I will never forget.

When I called Penny Stewart to say thank you for the beautiful Marine Amigurumi figures she had crocheted for me and our COO, Paul Cucinotta, I didn’t anticipate her saying something that will stick with me forever.

Jared’s Journey – From Airman to Ambassador

This weekly briefing is about a young Airman named Jared Clemens who embraced Operation Gratitude’s mission and brought together the community of San Antonio through a common bond of service and simple acts of gratitude. When I met Jared outside Fire Station #1 in “Military City USA” on November 28, 2018, I saw and understood the true potential of our volunteer Ambassador program for the very first time.

What Jared did that day was truly remarkable. He single-handedly organized the delivery of 3,000 of our signature red care pouches to every police officer, firefighter, and EMT in the San Antonio Police and Fire Departments.

Chance’s Choice

When we started the new year, I hoped that the need to support our Deployed Troops and Frontline Responders would wane. As we returned from the holidays, I hoped and prayed that our fight against COVID would end and service members who faced extended deployments would come home.

Yet four weeks into 2021, and the need for Operation Gratitude has grown — not waned. In the weeks leading to the 2021 Inauguration, we supported 6,800 police officers in Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department and NYPD and 25,000 National Guardsmen deployed to our nation’s capital because they needed us.

The fact is, on average, we have impacted more than one service member every minute of the day, thus far, in 2021.

Every Day is a Day On

For many of us, 2021 started off in a very challenging way. Our fight against a global pandemic continues, and we witnessed an attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last week resulting in the deaths of five Americans and injuries to 58 DC Police Officers. 

What Operation Gratitude did in response was nothing short of extraordinary, and we need your help to continue to lift the spirits of our men and women in uniform at a time of their greatest need. 

In Their Own Words: I Hope You Know that You Have Made a Difference

In January 1991, I sat in the desert of Saudi Arabia deployed with 2nd Battalion 10th Marines from Camp LeJeune NC for the Gulf War. As a young Second Lieutenant, I was a little scared—but most of all I missed my family as I spent my first holiday season away from them.

I know our COO, Paul Cucinotta, who spent four Christmas holidays away from his wife and four children over his 27 year career feels the same way—as do the other veterans and military spouses on our team who spent hundreds of birthdays, special occasions and holidays separated from their loved ones.

Celebrating Unprecedented Impact in an Unprecedented Year

With just a few days until the new year, our unstoppable team is already preparing the first few shipments of care packages for Frontline Responders fighting COVID-19. We will recognize the sacrifices they made being separated from their loved ones and spending the holidays in hospitals, squad cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.

Our hope is you will consider making an end of year tax-deductible contribution to expand Operation Gratitude’s impact across the country this January.

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.

Trees Through The Forest

December 9, 2020 it will be three years since I joined our Founder, Carolyn Blashek, and 2,000 other grateful Americans at my first Operation Gratitude Assembly Day. What I saw that day took my breath away. In that moment I realized the true potential of this amazing organization that now impacts more than one million volunteers and a half million service men and women and their families each year.