There are many ways to thank those who make personal sacrifices and put their lives on the line so the rest of us can enjoy liberty and freedom. For the deployed soldier who must endure difficult living conditions, long periods away from home, and threats from hostile enemies, even a small thing like a letter or package from someone who expresses appreciation for what they are doing can mean a great deal.
That’s what makes Operation Gratitude so important for the morale of American service men and women serving throughout the world, in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, South Korea and the Middle East. Founded in 2003 by Carolyn Blashek as a way to boost morale and show support for troops deployed in response to the September 11th attacks, Operation Gratitude has delivered more than 786,000 individually addressed care packages to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines overseas, and is well on its way to reaching its goal of one million delivered packages in the next two years.
Contained within each care package are food, snacks, toiletries, entertainment items, and letters of appreciation and encouragement personally addressed to an individual service member. Through collection drives, letter writing campaigns, and donations from both corporations and individuals, Operation Gratitude averages $11 million in donations of money and goods each year. The donated value of each package is approximately $125, but they cost only $15 to assemble and ship.
Responses from the troops have been overwhelmingly positive and even inspirational. With words like “Your cards and messages to help us get through the holidays with joy will always be remembered,” and “When I opened your package I was extremely grateful and moved at the thought of so many Americans taking time out of their busy lives,”it is easy to see what a difference Operation Gratitude has and can make to the men and women of the United States military.
If you know of service people that would enjoy a package, click here for more information.
In addition to sending care packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude also provides care packages for Wounded Warriors to let them know how much their service is appreciated, working with representatives at military hospitals and Wounded Warrior Transition Units throughout the country. Since many wounded service men and women are most concerned with the welfare of their comrades still on the frontline, Operation Gratitude also sends care packages to the wounded soldier’s unit, which helps the wounded soldier feel as if they are still contributing to the mission and supporting their buddies.
A new program underway by Operation Gratitude is Battalion Buddies, which provides special stuffed toys to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy, in the hopes of providing some degree of comfort to children while their moms and dads are away. This small act of kindness goes a long way by showing both the child and their deploying parents that there are people who care and appreciate the sacrifice they are all making.
You can help too in so many different ways. You can write letters, make personal donations, and shop at select partners vendors that donate a portion of their sales to Operation Gratitude. Artful Vision is a proud partner; our American artists, musicians and authors donate 20% of your purchase when you choose Operation Gratitude at checkout.
To make a donation to Operation Gratitude or volunteer to help during one of their collection drives, visit their site at http://www.operationgratitude.com/and sign up for one of their many opportunities to show members of our military that we appreciate what they are doing for all of us.
Memorial Day 2012 – we give thanks to all the men and women who bravely serve.