Operation Gratitude seeks to lift spirits and meet the evolving needs of the U.S. Military and First Responder communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for Americans to express their appreciation to all who serve our nation.
Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 250,000+ individually addressed Care Packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to First Responders, New Recruits, Veterans, Wounded Heroes, and their Care Givers. Each package contains snacks, hygiene products, entertainment, and handmade items, as well as personal letters of support.
Through Collection Drives, Letter Writing Campaigns, Craft Projects, and Care Package Assembly Events, Operation Gratitude provides civilians anywhere in America a way to say “Thank You” through active, hands-on volunteerism.
Each package contains donated products valued between $45 and $100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship.
After 9-11, founder Carolyn Blashek started volunteering at the military lounge at Los Angeles airport. In March 2003, a soldier came into the office and broke down at her desk. He was on leave from a war zone for his mother’s funeral, his wife had left him, and his only child had died as an infant—he had no one else in his life.
“I’m going back over there; I know I won’t make it back this time, but it really doesn’t matter because no one would even care,” he told her. Right then, Blashek realized that when bullets are flying, troops must believe that someone at home cares about them as an individual. That’s when Operation Gratitude was born.
While this grassroots movement started in Blashek’s living room, it now encompasses Americans all over the country donating items and writing letters to those who serve.