Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in Transition Units.
Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 800,000 packages to American Military members and their children.
After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, founder Carolyn Blashek felt the need to aid the war on terrorism. Starting from her house in California, the charity now encompasses churches, schools, businesses and service groups all over the country donating items and writing letters to service members through Operation Gratitude.
Since November 2003, Operation Gratitude has conducted its Assembly Drives in the California Army National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, California.
Blashek and Director of Operations Charlie Othold personally delivered the 300,000th care package to Iraq in January, 2008.
U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos personally delivered the 600,000th package on Christmas Day, 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan.
Mission Statement & Facts
Tens of thousands of American Service Members are deployed in hostile and remote regions of the world, including the Middle East, Afghanistan, and on ships throughout international waters. The physical conditions they must endure are difficult and they may be separated from loved ones for long periods of time.
Operation Gratitude seeks to lift morale and put smiles on faces by sending care packages addressed to individual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in harm’s way, to their children left behind, and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in Transition Units. Operation Gratitude care packages contain food, hygiene products, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation, all wrapped with good wishes of love and support.
Through Collection Drives, Letter Writing Campaigns and Donations of funds for shipping expenses, Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to express their respect and appreciation to the men and women of the U.S. Military in an active, hands-on manner.
Wounded Warrior Care Package Program
Operation Gratitude works with representatives at Military hospitals and Wounded Warrior Transition Units to provide care packages for Wounded Warriors/Veterans to let them know they are never forgotten.
Recognizing that Warriors when first injured are most concerned with the well-being of their comrades still on the frontlines, we also offer a service to send care packages to the wounded’s buddies. Not only does this let the downrange troops know their wounded comrade is thinking about them, but most importantly, it helps the wounded feel they are still contributing to the mission and supporting their comrades. http://www.operationgratitude.com/2011/02/operation-gratitude-wounded-warrior-care-package-program/
Battalion Buddy Program
In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude provides special stuffed toys – known as Battalion Buddies – to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy.
Our special “Battalion Buddy” care packages contain a large, cuddly stuffed animal, along with other special snacks and items. The Battalion Buddy packages are given to each child at their parent’s pre-deployment or farewell event so the child has something to hug while their Mommy or Daddy is away.
The Battalion Buddy Program is designed to serve and encourage the young children of deploying troops and offer them some degree of comfort while their parent is far away, serving their country. http://www.operationgratitude.com/2011/05/battalion-buddies-supporting-the-children-of-deployed-troops/
Who We Serve
Operation Gratitude sends packages to Wounded Warriors and deployed members of all Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and to units from all states and territories. While we will send at least 100,000 care packages per year, we know the recipients share with their comrades, so we project that at least 250,000 service members will be directly touched by our program annually. In addition, the impact of our program on morale is felt generally throughout the Military (2.7 million people) and by the loved ones of those who serve (several million more).
Demographics of Population Served
The demographics of Operation Gratitude recipients mirror the overall makeup of our Armed Forces, which in turn closely reflect the American population. The 2008 published survey results: African-American: 12% Asian: 3% Caucasian: 65% Hispanic: 13% Native American: 2% Other (describe): 5% Declined to Specify The gender demographics of our recipients also reflect the overall makeup of our Armed Forces, which is approximately 85% male and 15% female. Operation Gratitude welcomes volunteers as well as donations of funds and products for the packages. The organization sends a care package to every deployed service member whose name is received.
In The Media
Nationally broadcast guest appearances on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox News, CNN, NPR’s Morning Edition, Rachael Ray, as well as the Dennis Prager, Larry Elder and Satellite Sisters Radio Shows. Operation Gratitude has been profiled on dozens of national and local TV news and radio broadcasts and in print media, including major newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Ms. Blashek was awarded the prestigious “Minerva Award” by California First Lady Maria Shriver on October 26, 2010 in recognition of Operation Gratitude’s impact on Military Support nationwide.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and 25 members of Congress and the Obama Administration joined 12,000 Operation Gratitude volunteers on the National Day of Service, January 19, 2009 to assemble 85,000 care kits for Operation Gratitude care packages.
President and Mrs. Bush invited Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek, to the White House on March 10, 2006 and on December 18, 2006 to thank her and the organization for their invaluable support of the U.S. Military.
Lt. General Hal Moore (Ret.), the legendary Commander made famous by the book and movie “We Were Soldiers” has embraced Operation Gratitude’s mission by participating at the Armory and donating his personal writing: “A General’s Spiritual Journey” for the packages.
Several celebrities and sports figures have volunteered at the armory, including Ben Affleck, Ed Asner, Patricia Heaton, Kathy Ireland, Mark Harmon, Madeleine Stowe, Regina Taylor, the casts of Days of Our Lives, NCIS and American Dreams, and Lakers Shannon Brown and Josh Powell.
Web: http://www.OperationGratitude.comYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/OpGrat
To Donate: https://www.operationgratitude.com/donate/
How You Can Help
For details on all activities: http://www.operationgratitude.com/get-involved/how-you-can-help
1. Donate Financially
2. Organize a Fundraiser
3. Collect: Halloween Candy Beanie Babies/Webkinz/Trolls Girl/Boy Scout Cookies, Nuts, Popcorn
4. Hand-Made Craft Projects: Knit/Crochet Scarves Sew Bandana Cool-Ties Braid Paracord Bracelets Create Greeting Cards
5. Volunteer at Armory
6. Write Letters: To Currently Deployed Service Members To Veterans of Previous Conflicts
7. Fundraise through Recycling
8. Donate Your Vehicle
9. Fundraise by Searching the Internet and by Shopping
10. Join Our Mailing List and Spread the Word
March to a Million
BE A PART OF HISTORY Join us on the March to a Million…Operation Gratitude Care Packages to Military heroes! WITH YOUR HELP, we will send the milestone Millionth Package in 2013: http://www.operationgratitude.com/marchtoamillion/
Donors of $10,000 or 10,000 items or more; full list available on website: http://www.operationgratitude.com/partners-page/sponsors/ Target, Ragu, Disney, NBC-Universal, Warner Brothers, General Mills, Cinnabon, Five Hour Energy, Emergen-C, Upper Deck, Sees Candies, Hallmark Cards, Hershey’s, Café Press, UFC, Bic, Beer Nuts, Chap Stick, Tootsie Roll, Cadbury Adams, Pentel, Q-Tips, KIND Snacks, McKesson, J&J, Wells Fargo, B of A
• 95.2 cents of every dollar donated goes to program services; fundraising expenses less than 1.3%
• 800,000 care packages assembled & shipped to date and 350,000 Volunteer Hours served every year
• Invited and joined by the Obama Administration to organize the assembly of 85,000 care kits in D.C.
• Honored by President and Mrs. Bush in the Oval Office for invaluable support of the Military
• 200,000+ opted-in contacts in social media: Email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked In, Blog
• Average Annual website hits: 23,600,000; Average Annual website visits: 416,000
• One of the top viewed charities on Guidestar.org; prestigious accreditation by Better Business Bureau
• Delivered 3 SUV’s and 3 Motorcycles donated by sponsors as gifts for Milestone Care Packages
• Annual partnership with the Philadelphia Sports Congress to collect items at the Army-Navy Game
What Distinguishes Us From Other Programs
• Administrative and fundraising expenses are the lowest in the Military Support community
• 100,000+ Packages assembled and shipped/year
• Provides unlimited volunteer opportunities for Americans nation-wide
• “Battalion Buddy” Program provides stuffed animals to children of deployed/wounded service members
• Overseas packages personally addressed to an individual service member, which has many benefits:
1) The recipient feels special; he/she is not just a number, but an honored individual.
2) Receiving a package in their own name lets them know they are not alone in the world.
3) The recipient is able to establish ongoing correspondences with the writers of letters in their package.
4) Every person in a unit receives their own package; no one feels left out or unloved.
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