We Are Family

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Last week, I spent a few days with my family on vacation, and I had time to reflect on what our team and our army of volunteers have accomplished so far this year. In the midst of these unprecedented times, our family at Operation Gratitude found a way to adapt, evolve, and overcome adversity.

Together, as a family, we continued to take action, impacting more than 325,000 Deployed Troops, Military Families, Veterans, and COVID-19 Frontline Responders in 35 states and Washington DC. 

It’s hard to believe that a year ago on July 20, 2019, I was at an Assembly Day at our HQ in Chatsworth, CA with more than 700 of you, working together to assemble more than 12,000 Operation Gratitude Care Packages with more than 400,000 individual items in just 3 hours. Those care packages included tens of thousands of Handmade With Love items — scarves and hats, paracord bracelets, and handwritten letters of appreciation from grateful Americans like you across the country. 

This week, I was with a much smaller group of about 100 volunteers, spread out over 6 shifts in 3 days to allow for social distancing and sanitizing of work surfaces.

We assembled 5,000 Care Packages, to be delivered to Deployed Troops overseas as a reminder that we recognize and appreciate their sacrifices always, but especially as deployments are extended and service members and their families desperately miss each other and struggle during times of extreme uncertainty. 

These photos, taken at Assembly Days one year apart, are a stark reminder to me of how dramatically life can change in a relatively short period of time. One thing that will never change is Operation Gratitude’s commitment to meeting the needs of our brave men and women in uniform.

I can’t wait for all of us — our family — to come together again in large numbers to say thank you to those who serve and bridge divides in communities nationwide. Until then, we will continue to lead and provide opportunities for hands-on volunteerism while supporting hundreds of thousands more Deployed Troops and COVID-19 Frontline Responders.

You can help us continue to serve those serving our communities and our nation by making a small donation and/or joining our virtual volunteerism movement. This week we have a big need for snacks for our Care Packages! Please consider purchasing a snack item from our Amazon Smile list:

Thank you for being part of the Operation Gratitude family, and for doing your part in helping us accomplish our mission during these challenging times. 

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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.