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How You Can Offer Love from Home for Overseas Troops, First Responders, and More

Operation Gratitude gives you the opportunity to help them create care packages for active duty troops (and more) who need reminders of home

In 2003, Carolyn Blashek was volunteering at a military lounge at Los Angeles airport when a soldier walked into her office and broke down at her desk.

Convinced that no one cared about him, he had decided that he would return to active duty. His next words would haunt her: “I know I won’t make it back this time, but it really doesn’t matter because no one would care.”

Story and quote from the description for the YouTube video posted on this page

That experience spurred Carolyn into action. She thought about the care packages she sent to her children when they were younger and at summer camp, just to let them know she was thinking about them. Why not create care packages for active duty soldiers–so none of them would think as this young man did, that no one cared about him?

Thus was Operation Gratitude born!

How Operation Gratitude Offers Special Gifts from Home to Soldiers Overseas

The first set of care packages came from Carolyn’s living room–all 650 of them! As of this writing, that number has grown to nearly 4 million care packages sent!

While care packages were originally sent only to active troops, their mission has now expanded to include:

  • National Guard
  • Police departments
  • Fire departments & EMS
  • Military families
  • Veterans

You can see some of the items included in a care package in this video (which will also give you an idea of the origins of Operation Gratitude, as well as the grit and determination of Carolyn Blashek!).

As with most charities, Operation Gratitude relies heavily on volunteers and donors. Donors, of course, offer financial support, ship the items used in care packages, and create for their Handmade with Love program. (More about that shortly… it’s the way for knitters and crocheters to get involved!)

Want more ways to support troops and/or veterans? Take a look at these blog posts!

How You Can Support the Creation and Donation of Care Packages

Obviously, if you’re a crocheter or knitter, you’ll want to know how you can lend a hand in this way! Operation Gratitude makes this easy with their Crochet & Knit page. Here is where you can learn about their Handmade with Love program.

In a nutshell, Operation Gratitude asks for handmade hats and scarves. These will be tucked into Care Packages and help keep troops (as well as first responders and veterans) warm. On the Crochet & Knit page, you’ll find guidelines for sizing and colors.

You’ll also find out how to ship your items and the address to send them to.

If you decide to become an Operation Gratitude crafter, be sure to join the Operation Gratitude in Action Facebook group! You’ll find endless motivation and inspiration to continue creating with others to help troops, first responders, and other similar folks who could use that reminder of how much they are cared for.

Do you have some extra time on your hands? There are many ways you can volunteer directly with Operation Gratitude!

  1. If you live in or near Chatsworth, CA, you can volunteer directly at the Operation Gratitude headquarters. This often includes putting together care packages!
  2. If you live in or near San Diego, you can volunteer at a Distribution event.
  3. If you live anywhere else, you can still volunteer from right where you are! You can do anything from writing letters to putting together collection drives.

You can also donate financially! You can either donate directly or put together a fundraiser especially for Operation Gratitude.

For more inspiration, I encourage you to take a look at Operation Gratitude’s Mail Call, including many anecdotes from recipients of care packages.

Operation Gratitude is a wonderful way to ensure that the men and women who serve their country from overseas never forget that they are loved, thought of, and cared for!

Operation Gratitude

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