Meet Our 800,000th Care Package Recipient…

CAMP DEHDADI II — Surrounded by cheering and clapping comrades, Spc. Samuel Mancilla, a motor transport operator assigned to the 1072nd Transportation Company, 378th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade received Operation Gratitude’s milestone 800,000th care package on August 15, 2012!

Our hope has always been to lift morale and put smiles on the faces of deployed troops, and Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek, was able to hear firsthand how the package received by Mancilla did just that.

“He was so excited about the package, that he called me from Afghanistan, right after he received it, to say ‘thank you,’ and he asked me to thank every single Operation Gratitude volunteer and donor,” Blashek said.

“It puts a smile on my face because it’s more than an honor to be a recipient of something like this,” Mancilla said. “It’s uplifting to see the support and feel the love.”

Mancilla, a Simi Valley, California resident, deployed to Afghanistan in March 2012 from his home state. To him, the package is more than just a gift; Mancilla said it is a blessing.

The 1072nd Transportation Company recently suffered the loss of a fallen Soldier whom Mancilla knew well.

“When you’re deployed, your comrades are like family,” Mancilla said.

Just 24 hours after the death of the fellow soldier, Mancilla received news about the death of a family member back in the States. While making plans to go home for the funeral, Mancilla was told he could stay home because his company would be returning to the United States shortly. But Mancilla’s sense of loyalty and duty called him to return to Afghanistan and join his company.

“It just didn’t feel right staying home when everyone else was in Afghanistan,” Mancilla said. “When I returned home for good, I wanted to do so with my unit.”

After the funeral, Mancilla rejoined his company in Afghanistan and, to his surprise, was called forward during a formation. His Commanding Officer and First Sergeant handed him a care package. The milestone Operation Gratitude care package could not have been given to him at a better time.

“It felt good to come back and receive this special care package,” said Mancilla. “I haven’t grasped it all yet. I just can’t believe how everything’s worked out. It’s like finding the good in the bad.”

If you remember our celebration in June, you already know the package he received included many generous donations: a portable DVD player, a digital camera, a web cam, a week vacation donated by our long-time Operation Gratitude volunteer Shirley Landau, and keys to a custom-built Orange County Choppers‘ motorcycle donated in partnership with SJO Foundation for Hope and Torque Sports & Performance.

We are excited to announce that Mancilla (pictured here holding a letter from his care package) plans to join Operation Gratitude, SJO Foundation for Hope, and Torque Sports & Performance to unveil his new OCC motorcycle at our headquarters in Van Nuys, California on December 15, 2012.

We hope many of YOU will be able to join us for that special day!

“I’m thankful to know there are committed volunteers that take time to let Soldiers know their appreciation,” Mancilla said. “With everything that has happened in the past few weeks, it seems surreal. I’m happy and I’m honored.”

Help us put smiles on the faces of thousands more Service Members this year! Let them know we honor and respect them, just as Spc. Mancilla learned last week. Send a care package today.

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

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, 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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11 Responses to Meet Our 800,000th Care Package Recipient…

  1. Pingback: Operation Gratitude – 900k and the March to a Million | Hot Nerd Girl

  2. Pingback: 900,000 and counting… | Operation Gratitude Blog

  3. Deborah Leigh says:

    Congratulations to Spec. Mancilla! Many thanks to all those who donated to that milestone package!

    I wish I could be there for the event, but don’t want to pass this nasty bug on to anyone.

    All my best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year!

  4. Lynette says:

    Reblogged this on Momisms – Moments in Motherhood and commented:
    While we celebrate Labor Day, I celebrate all those whose hard work, has kept this nation marching forward in freedom, liberty and innovation. (There is nothing more innovative than someone trying to make an MRE edible :)) For those that don’t know, the military can be a great institution and is filled with great hard working people, not all of whom are citizens, yet. Good luck and take care! I raise freshly BBQd hamburger to you and thank you for the opportunity to eat meat, and drink a cold beverage!

  5. Jack Benton says:

    Reblogged this on EHS Safety News America and commented:
    Please Support this great organization!!!

  6. wdednh says:

    Reblogged this on YOU DECIDE and commented:
    God bless all Of you At O.peration Gratitude

  7. wdednh says:

    May God Bless you and those you serve. You are as Great as they are.

  8. Lindsay says:

    That’s wonderful news to see he received the milestone package after returning to his unit when he didn’t have to

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