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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


On September 12, the day after our country was attacked, Carolyn Blashek tried to sign up for the armed services and was denied. She decided she had to do "something" and so she began in a small way, collecting donations and sending care packages and letters to our troops abroad. From that inspiration, came Operation Gratitude, now on all-volunteer organization that continues to support and lend comfort to our troops. To date, they have sent out an phenomenal 223,000 care packages to the troops ... and counting.

On Saturday morning, my husband and I volunteered for the first time at the California Armory not far from our home to "work the assembly line" in the ongoing effort. When we walked into the big factory facility, we were greeted with hugs and friendly introductions. The place is one well-oiled machine, set up to put out more than 8,000 care packages in one day through the efforts of volunteers like myself. We were shown what to do, my husband volunteering to do some heavy lifting of boxes, while I worked with approximately fifty others, putting batteries, then bags of Corn Nuts into the boxes that were people-powered, moving the boxes from one station to another. Once the boxes were filled, they were people-powered speed-wrapped and then labeled.
The neat thing is that these care packages go to individual soldiers. They get to enjoy items from home, like popcorn, dvd's, much needed batteries, new socks, candy, Girl Scout cookies, toothpaste, hand cream, TY toys for the children, among other things. There are 60 sponsors who donate a minimum of 10,000 items each, the huge armory walls are lined with donations, and I stood in the middle of all this, thrilled and humbled to be a part of such a good cause. Here's just a small sampling of what the assembly line looks like -- there's about 300 people working together at one time.
After a few hours, announcements were made. "One thousands boxes packed and ready to ship" and by the end of the day, we had reached our goal of 8,000 boxes. The problem facing Operation Gratitude now, is the mailing costs. Since the Post Office raised their rates, it now costs this non-profit charity $10.00 a package to send overseas. That's $80,000.00 in shipping costs alone for the day I worked. Here's a picture of a Marine getting the news that he "won" a brand new car which he'll receive when he returns home. He's to be married soon.
It's something I wish I'd known about before as we
have always sent our own care packages when we knew of a particular soldier's needs. Now, we'll be joining in Operation Gratitude on a regular basis and we're happy to do it.
If you'd like to send a donation to help with shipping costs or know someone who can, this is definitely a worthy, noble cause. Information below.
MEDIA ALERT: Operation Gratitude Fourth Annual Patriotic Drive Kicks Off During Memorial Day Weekend
Organization to send 50,000 Care Packages to Support Our Troops
During the Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-27, Operation Gratitude, the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, will commence its Fourth Annual Patriotic Drive, to assemble and mail over 50,000 care packages to reach deployed troops by July 4th.
Operation Gratitude's ( ) mission is to put a smile on a service member's face, lift morale, and express the appreciation of the American people for the sacrifices of the men and women defending our freedom. To date, Operation Gratitude has sent more than 211,000 care packages to troops deployed in harm's way. For more information on Operation Gratitude's program to Support Our Troops, click here: Operation Gratitude
On Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27, members of Operation Gratitude's 3500+ Volunteer Corps, along with Military personnel will start the Drive to assemble and ship at least 50,000 Patriotic Care Packages filled with Flash Drives, Phone Cards, DVDs and CDs, Mr. Potato Heads, Beanie Babies, Candy, Gum, Cough Drops, Girl Scout Cookies, Bandana Cool-Ties, Skin Care Products, Coffee, Greeting Cards, Batteries, Energy Drinks, T-Shirts, Socks and assorted Snacks. During the Press Conference scheduled at 11:30 am on Saturday May 26, the organization's Founder, Carolyn Blashek, will reveal the exciting new item created exclusively for our troops to be shipped in all Operation Gratitude care packages this year!

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