Join the “Letters from Home” Campaign!

Calling all kids — and adults, too! Learn how you can help Team Kids, Inc. break a Guinness World Record AND support our troops and veterans at the same time!

TK Letters from HomeDownload letter templates and guidelines from the Team Kids, Inc. blog. Send in your letters before May 18 and after they’re counted towards the World Record they will be included in Operation Gratitude care packages!

For more information/questions, please contact Marissa Camacho at marissa@teamkids.org

THANK YOU for your support!

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What a “Month of Giving”!

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In March, Jersey Mike’s Subs supported Operation Gratitude at 91 Southern California locations during its 5th Annual Month of Giving and we now have the results to share:

At least $396,229 was raised in this amazing grassroots campaign!

This extraordinary donation will result in more than 26,000 packages being shipped to our Troops and Veterans. The timing is perfect too, as we have significantly increased the number of packages that we plan to send this year.

THANK YOU to everyone who made $1, $3 and $5 donations all month long and THANK YOU to everyone who participated in Jersey Mike’s “Day of Giving” on March 25th, when 100% of all sales were donated to our cause.

Last, but not least, THANK YOU to the entire Jersey Mike’s Subs Family! We are in awe of all that was accomplished and all the many worthwhile causes you supported!

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Buy a Sub and Make a Difference!

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We are honored and grateful to be among the charities supported by Jersey Mike’s Subs during its 5th Annual Month of Giving! Throughout March, 91 stores in Southern California — from Santa Maria to Laguna Niguel — have been supporting
 Operation Gratitude and this week, on the “Day of Giving” — Wednesday, March 25 — 100% of sales from those stores will be donated to our charity! 

That’s every penny from every sale!IMG_3429D

Here is a link to all the stores that are supporting Operation Gratitude:

http://bit.ly/JerseyMikesGivesOpGrat

No matter where you live, you can support a worthy cause when you visit your local Jersey Mike’s this month. Find a list of ALL the charities and links to the participating stores here: https://www.jerseymikes.com/mog/#charities

BONUS: Receive $1 off any sub! (Offer valid through 3/25: http://tinyurl.com/qhyh72g)

THANK YOU for your support! Please join us in thanking Jersey Mike’s for making a difference for so many great charities, all across the country. 

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Thank YOU for your support!

2014 donationsTogether we will create even MORE smiles in 2015!

As always, THANK YOU for generosity and support!

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New Recruit Care Packages Thank Troops From Day One

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Operation Gratitude is excited to announce the launch of its “New Recruit” Care Package program to thank our newest members of the Military for stepping forward and devoting the next several years of their lives in service to our nation. Upon Graduation from Boot Camp, each New Recruit is handed a unique package of goodies from Operation Gratitude in a new custom-designed box.

The New Recruit Care Package Program is already in full swing at both Marine Corps Recruiting Depots in San Diego and Parris Island,  and at the Navy’s Great Lakes Recruit Training Command in Illinois.  The organization hopes to bring the Army and Air Force centers on board in 2015.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive: 

“We are excited and honored to start this program at Recruit Training Command. Operation Gratitude lets the nation’s newest Sailors know that someone is always thinking about them. These care packages show the Sailors that they are part of Operation Gratitudethe Navy family and the country is proud of them for their decision to serve.” –Capt. Doug Pfeifle (pictured here), commanding officer of Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, IL.

“Greetings! I am a Private who just recently graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. On the last week of boot camp, each of us received one of your packages, and I wanted to let you know that they were very much appreciated. Receiving those packages helped make us feel human again, and that reminder of our nation’s support boosted our morale.  Thank you very much for your generosity. Semper Fidelis.” –Pvt K.J.

“I am a new Marine Mom. My son graduated MCRD as a Private on Nov 7. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the Care Package you sent him. We were not allowed to send things to him so him receiving this care package, I know made his day. I had tears in my eyes reading your mission statement. Thank you, Thank you! He wore the knitted beanie all the way home.” –M.B.H., Texas

20141212_153102In addition to an assortment of snacks, hygiene, entertainment and hand-made items, each Care Package includes a “Loved One Medallion,” a specially designed Operation Gratitude keepsake for the New Recruit to share with a special family member or friend. The Medallion thanks loved ones for their support and lets them know that the American people stand “hand in hand” with them.

“We hope the recruits get two things from receiving these packages,” said Angel Cuevas, Director of Operations for Operation Gratitude. “First, we hope it lifts their morale. Second, we want them to know someone, somewhere cares. This is the generosity of the American public. We are supporting their mission wherever it takes them, and we don’t want them to be alone.”

The distribution of all New Recruit Care Packages is handled directly with the Military training centers. Individual requests for our regular care packages to deployed troops can still be made through the Operation Gratitude website.

Just as with all of our care package programs, every American can support the New Recruit Packages by organizing collection drives, writing letters, hand-crafting scarves, hats and bracelets, or contributing financially. For more information, please visit: How You Can Help

Congratulations and many thanks to all our New Recruits and their Loved Ones!

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An Award-Winning Salute…with Gingerbread!

Gingerbread_closeup (1280x853)Yes, it’s true — this Soldier and the care package before him are made out of gingerbread (and other edibles)!

Jennifer Elmore’s amazing “A Soldier’s Christmas” is among the Top-10 ribbon winners of the 22nd Annual National Gingerbread House competition.

As the daughter of a now-retired two-star U.S. Army general, Jennifer knows all about military Gingerbread_MikeandJenniferfamilies and her work is a tribute to them.

“I hope in some small way this honors the sacrifices service members and their families make for us every day, but especially at this time of year,” she says. 

We are very grateful that Jennifer (pictured here with her husband, Mike) chose to use her talents to highlight Operation Gratitude’s work. Look carefully at the photo up top and you can see Operation Gratitude’s logo on the gingerbread care package!

Jennifer is a Wells Fargo team member, and you can read more about her special creation in the company’s recent blog post:

Saluting service members’ sacrifices — in gingerbread!

The winning gingerbread entries are on display at The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina through January 1.

(Photos courtesy of Wells Fargo.)

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How Operation Gratitude Shaped My Future

A Guest Post from long-time supporter Kelsey “Archie” Evans:

I’ve been “All-American” pro-military for as long as I can remember. There was a patriotic feeling that swelled inside me after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. That day we 12 15 12 assemblydaywere truly the United States of America. And then we were at war. I remember through my high school career hearing the number of deaths in Iraq/Afghanistan on the news every night; my heart stirred with sadness, and also with love and gratitude. I wanted to help and support the troops. Operation Gratitude helped me discover how to make that possible.

The first time I walked into the Van Nuys Armory I felt immediately welcomed and strangely at home.

My first few Assembly Days were spent at the beginning of the assembly line making boxes, all the way through to the end, tossing donated Halloween candy in. Little did I know, I had a bigger future here, more than just Halloween candy and boxes.

Operation Gratitude is my go-to place to feel “All-American.” Our “Hard Corps” volunteers work every day and bestow a warm welcome upon everyone they greet. Two of our senior “Hard Corps” volunteers, Barbara “Wildcat” Watson and “Diamond” Lil Bauer, can put a smile on anyone’s face. Their commitment and the amount of hard work they do puts most of us to shame.

I volunteered at the armory for three years and there was never a dull day. During my time at Operation Gratitude, I never questioned if I was making a difference, I knew that I was.
It was the best work I’d done in my whole life, fulfilling what felt like my dream job. Being part of the production, I felt like I finally had identity and purpose. Carolyn Blashek’s goal was my goal; to support and thank members of our military.

24nov11nAs a team member at the Armory, your role wasn’t simply the title you carried; as Carolyn calls it “Semper Gumby,” ‘Always Flexible.’ I conducted the Battalion Buddy and Paracord programs, but that’s not all. From unloading tons, literally, of Halloween candy off mail trucks to sorting CDs; from driving the forklift around to orchestrating the Battalion Buddy package assembly, the duties were various, yet all were related to keep the Armory in full swing. I am blessed to have worked with some of the best and most patriotic Americans in the world.

“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”–Henry Drummond.

Looking back, a majority of moments where I felt most alive took place at the Armory fulfilling the charity’s mission: to put a smile on a service member’s face.
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In November of 2012, Carolyn introduced me to a handsome grunt from 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. Six short months later, I married my hero and best friend, Cpl Jon Evans. Entering the Camp Pendleton community was an exciting new chapter, yet there is no preparation for becoming a military wife. Too few expressions exist that can translate this reality; but ‘Wife’ is the best role in the Marine Corps. I want to thank my Operation Gratitude family for their support and love.

On December 7, 2013, Operation Gratitude made history sending the One Millionth care package. On that celebratory day, I fulfilled my most prominent role at the armory as 7dec13_nCarolyn’s right hand. I met dignitaries, celebrities and honored veterans whom most people won’t meet in their lifetime.

From my experience at Operation Gratitude, emerged a personal sense of duty to make sure all active duty service members and veterans know they are appreciated and cared for.

There can’t ever be enough support for our active duty military and wounded warriors, and it is never too late to say “thank you” to our veterans. Our troops are trained to go to war, but are they trained to come home? The fact that our nation’s veterans, those who committed their life in service of our country, ensuring our freedoms and luxuries, are in the homeless and suicide statistics is perturbing. There is a record number of homeless veterans, and the veteran suicide rate is alarmingly high.IMG_5800B

I have decided to become a Military social worker/PTSD counselor. Our veterans and fallen heroes sacrificed and died for me, so I’ll live for them. Dedicating my life to them is how I can best repay the debt I owe them and those who have gone before.

As an Operation Gratitude Ambassador and grateful American, I will continue the organization’s important mission. Please join me as we celebrate our veterans and active duty service members every day of the year.

 

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