Operation Gratitude Pledges Hours
When Carolyn Blashek started assembling care packages in her living room, she had no idea how big her idea would become. For nine years since then, Blashel and Operation Gratitude have been lifting morale and putting smiles on faces by sending individually addressed care packages to military personnel, their families, first responders, and Wounded Warriors. To date, they have sent over 827,000 care packages and they already have their sights set on a March to a Million – that is, sending the millionth care package. . . impressive doesn’t begin to describe the accomplishment.
In just nine years, Operation Gratitude has not only managed to operate one of the most successful care package initiatives; they have expanded their overall organization to encompass several additional programs.
"As things changed in our society, we saw additional needs and were able to evolve and create new programs to fit those needs, said Dana Chotiner, Development Director at Operation Gratitude. "For example, we've seen many new veterans returning home and continuing to put their training to good use, by working or volunteering as first responders in emergency situations. We wanted to let them know that we still support them and thank them for their service, and so our 'First Responder Care Package Program' was born."
Operation Gratitude also includes the following programs: Concerts that Care, Battalion Buddies, Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families.
“One of the reasons that makes Operation Gratitude so special is that it allows the American public to show their gratitude for our service members,” said Chotiner. And with such a broad array of programs, there are many things the public can do to get involved – including donating goods, sorting materials, filling the box, adding labels, writing letters, and knitting scarves. And what seems like a simple task goes a long way for a Soldier, Marine or military kid.
As Operation Gratitude makes its way to hitting the March to a Million milestone, Operation Honor Corps – a program that promotes volunteerism in honor of military families, service members, and veterans – couldn’t be more happier with their renewed support and pledge of 150,000 public service hours for the 2012-2013 year. Operation Honor Corps will supply Honor Cards that will be placed in the care packages – allowing everyone to see that public service is being completed in their honor. We are thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful initiative.
Way to go Operation Gratitude!
By Michelle Vaughn
Michelle Vaughn is an Americorps VISTA member and Program Coordinator for Operation Honor Corps. She is a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature and Language. Aside from the time she spent learning Spanish in Spain and interning in Panama, she has lived in California her entire life. She recently relocated to Washington D.C. to serve as a VISTA member and is thrilled to have the opportunity to support Blue Star Families and its dedication to supporting military families