“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.”
Those were the heartbreaking words an Iraq war soldier told our founder Carolyn Blashek back in 2003. He had lost everything and had lost sight of the amount of love and appreciation all around him. Carolyn was stunned, and she immediately wanted him and everyone who serves our country to know that the American people care. But what kind of gesture would reach deployed troops and impact them in a meaningful way? The idea came to her when she was reminded of the Care Packages she sent to her children when they were away. She wanted her kids to know that she was always thinking about them and was excited for their return home.
That was the moment Operation Gratitude was born.
Carolyn realized that Care Packages are also a perfect way to show our troops that their sacrifices are appreciated here at home. The first Operation Gratitude Care Packages were created in her living room, and since that time the company has grown into what it is today...an organization committed to providing opportunities for Americans to express gratitude to everyone who raised their hand to serve.
An Operation Gratitude Care Package is a tangible connection to home. Every year, thousands of service members are deployed around the world, separated from family, friends, and the comforts of home. Many of them rarely get mail... and some never do. But Operation Gratitude knows how important getting mail is for the morale and wellbeing of our troops, especially during a difficult deployment or tough training. At assembly events across the nation, our Volunteers create thousands of Care Packages that are shipped directly to active-duty service members, first responders, and Veterans at defining moments of their lives.
The feedback we get from the people who receive our Care Packages inspires us every day. Here’s just one of the many messages we receive about the impact of our Care Packages:
Dear Operation Gratitude,
I would like to personally extend my thanks to you and all those involved in sending me a care package. I myself am not close with many people back home and the care package was a great morale boost that I did not expect to receive. I especially appreciated the hand knitted scarf and all the letters from the children. These are items I will cherish and bring home with me to treasure forever as memories of a time of joy when truthfully, I felt very alone. You are all doing wonderful things for us out here out of the kindness of your heart, and it is very much appreciated. I know I do not just speak for myself when I say this, as the rest of my coworkers, Marines and Sailors extend our gratitude to you in return. It is comforting to know there are still people back home who care about those deployed and show it, when even some of our loved ones may not.
I ask that you continue your work with renewed strength and understanding that you are appreciated too. We know all too well that sometimes we may not see the fruits of our labor and I assess that at times it must feel that way for you all as well. Please know that your work is important and that, at least, from this Marine, I am very much thankful for you. You have renewed a flame of hope that, while still burning, was merely just an ember, that you have now turned into a roaring fire again. Your work is in essence the magic of this world. Charity to a stranger you may never know, for a thanks you may never receive. People like you hold back the darkness of this world with your kindness and love, while people like me hold back the darkness of this world with our weapons and willpower. You are our strength with which we use to defend you. Never forget that.
Once again, I extend my thanks for the care package and all the love that was put into it. Thank you. Sincerely. Have a wonderful day and keep believing you are making a difference.
Strength and Honor
Since the day our founder sent the very first Care Packages until today, Operation Gratitude is proud to have sent more than 3.5 million Care Packages...and counting! And until everyone who serves believes the American people care and honor their sacrifice, the mission continues.