Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Operation Gratitude - A Thank You From Home

We've all said, "There's nothing I can do. One person can't make a difference." Next time you feel like your hands are tied think of Carolyn Blashek and Operation Gratitude. The 9/11 tragedy so moved Carolyn that she tried to join the Army Reserves but was turned down due to her age. When that didn't work she volunteered with the USO at the Los Angeles Airport. While there she had a conversation with a solider before he headed back to the fighting. He told her he was alone in the world. No one would care if he died and he was certain this time he wouldn't make it back alive.

Operation Gratitude was born out of that conversation. "That was when I realized the need for service members facing war - time danger to know that someone back home cares about them," quoted Carolyn to Defend America News.

With her own money she boxed up care packages in her living room and sent them to war zones. Now Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization staffed soley by volunteers. They use the facilities at the 746th Quarter Master Battalion Armory in Van Nuys, California and during the 2006 holiday drive voluteers packaged and sent out more than 57,000 boxes.

Each box is lovingly filled with letters, candy, Beanie Babies, toiletries, DVD's, hand-held games, novelites, magazines, and other items.

Operation Gratitude receives countless letters of thank you from soliders like this one:

Dear Ladies & Gentlemen of Operation Gratitude,
Thank you very much for the care package that you sent. What it contained was very helpful, but more than that the thought really meant a lot. Please know that because we do our job not for gratitude but for love of our country, you as civilians have gone above and beyond – taken your time to do something for us noone asked you to, and that makes this package special. We have just found out we are getting extended and your support makes it that much easier for us. Thanks, Sincerely, 2ND LT GFM

Even JEEP has gotten into the act by making many of their dealerships "drop zones" for donations and giving away a brand new car to a Marine in Fallujah, the recipient of the 200,000th Operation Gratitude package.

The 2007 Patriotic Drive will kick-off during the Memorial Day Weekend: May 26-27, 2007. They began accepting donations the 2nd of April. At there is a list of needed items and directions to follow for donations.

Political leanings aside, everyone can get behind this effort. This is about encouragement and kindness, not politics. It's a way to say thank you to men and women who are willing to give their lives because they believe their country needs them too. They are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, neighbors, and friends. And they are American strangers willing to risk losing limbs to an IED for the safety of their countrymen.

To join Carolyn and the efforts of Operation Gratitude visit their website, make a donation, volunteer, send money, if you own a company offer to partner with her. As one person, you can make a difference. Just look to Carolyn Blashek as the example.

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