Battalion Buddy Program Sends 88,000 Hugs…and Counting!


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.”

Please check out the precious and heartwarming photos we have received as Battalion Buddy Packages Arrive at their various destinations! Find more sweet photos here.

Along with the McKesson Corporation, our deep thanks go to  Tobu Print Group, Inc., and Axiom Label Group which have generously provided printing services in connection with Battalion Buddy packages.

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:

Operation Gratitude
P.O. Box 260257
Encino, California 91426-0257

Corporate Donors should contact Carolyn Blashek at cblashek@aol.com 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.

Military Child Bat Buds Collage

About Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation to Veterans, New Recruits, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to say "Thank You" to members of our Military. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.
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21 Responses to Battalion Buddy Program Sends 88,000 Hugs…and Counting!

  1. Pingback: Operation Gratitude’s Military Support Programs | Operation Gratitude Blog

  2. Stephanie Taboada says:

    How would i be able to get my son one. Daddy is doing a hardship tour so we do not.have an frg leader. I know this would help him a lot.

  3. krista lynn says:

    I’d love to get one for my daughter but I don’t have contact with the frg, what do I do?

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  6. Amanda says:

    My son just turned 9 and met his dad for the first time the weekend before christmas 2012 only to find out his father will be deployed middle of January. I’d like to get him one of these to help him cope with his dad being away, to keep him company until his dad comes home…again. Thank you

  7. Miranda says:

    How can i get one for my son, my husband is currently deployed?

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  15. David Spinler says:

    my father was a previous veteran of war….captain air force pilot died in 1967…on a mission.
    I would like to volunteer actively in some capacity of help prepare packages or something along those lines, I live in San Diego.

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