Update: (2/2014): Our Battalion Buddy Program has been wildly popular! We sent out more than 150,000 Battalion Buddies in less than three years, providing hugs and cuddles to many children anxiously awaiting the return of their deployed parents. We are currently looking for Sponsors to continue the program. Please contact BattalionBuddy@gmail.com to learn about Sponsorship opportunities.
Update (10/2012): Meet the new Battalion Buddies! Read about them here: http://bit.ly/UW0nGB
Since the program’s launch in 2011, Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddy Packages have brought smiles and hugs to more than 88,000+ anxious sons and daughters of deploying U.S. military personnel!
In May 2011, Operation Gratitude started sending these special stuffed toys — known as “Battalion Buddies” — to the children of U.S. service members as their units prepare to deploy into harm’s way. Each Battalion Buddy wears a tag saying: “Hi Brave Young Warrior! I am your Battalion Buddy. I am here to cuddle with you while your Mommy or Daddy is away.”
Our initial Battalion Buddy efforts were made possible by the McKesson Corporation, which provided a generous donation of thousands of the toys. The program has continued with the cooperation and support of Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, plus the enthusiastic efforts of hundreds of Operation Gratitude volunteers who lovingly assemble the packages at our armory in Van Nuys. The 88,000+ Battalion Buddy packages have been shipped to 243 unique Zip Codes in 39 States plus Guam, Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy and Germany, and to 459 different deployed or deploying units!
“Battalion Buddies offer comfort and encouragement during a difficult time of separation,” said Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek. “We are excited that the momentum for this program is building and that more friends across the country are joining our efforts to support military children. Now we just need to find more of these soft cuddly animals to keep up with the demand!”
Carolyn says the response from families receiving the Battalion Buddy packages has been overwhelming. She shared an email one deployed father recently sent from Afghanistan:
“Thank you for what your organization does and the positive impact you have on the lives of military service members and their families. You bent over backwards to help us receive several hundred Battalion Buddies for our deploying unit and I for one was very grateful as my son and daughter absolutely loved them. According to my wife, they have kept them close every night as they go to sleep.”
As with its Care Packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddy Program provides American companies and every citizen opportunities to encourage the children of troops serving in combat by donating stuffed toys and contributing funds.
Financial donations to purchase and ship Battalion Buddies can be made online here: Donate to Battalion Buddies or by check made payable and addressed to:
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436
Corporate Donors should contact Carolyn Blashek at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding sponsorship opportunities.
Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders wishing to **request Battalion Buddy packages should send an email to BattalionBuddy@gmail.com for more information.
**Please Note: We greatly appreciate the service and sacrifice of all military families, but the specific intent of Battalion Buddy packages is to provide comfort to those children who will not get to see their parent for a long time and need something to hold on to. Please understand that due to very limited resources, we must restrict this program to the children of OVERSEAS deployed/deploying Military only.