Christmas Here vs. There

What does Christmas Look Like…?

  • Christmas is the winter scene in a Currier and Ives painting, retrieving lights from their year-long garage hibernation and carefully applying them to eaves, windows and doors.
  • Christmas is doting on your children and/or grandchildren, catching up with friends at parties and basking in the glowing warmth of a fireplace.
  • Christmas is selecting just the right tree and decorating it with cherished handmade ornaments, and buying just the right gifts for loved ones while carolers serenade.

That’s Christmas….unless you are serving your country in a far off place.

  • There, the Currier and Ives scene has been replaced by: drafty barracks constructed in a barren valley in Afghanistan, a sandbagged compound in Iraq or a cramped bunk on board a ship.
  • You place token gifts under a forlorn tree decorated with scrounged ornaments including a garland of paperclips.
  • The only gift you want is some computer time to see your newborn daughter’s first Christmas as your wife holds her up in front of a Webcam.

That is our troops’ reality. That is their Christmas and they ask nothing from us. Yet our service members are incredibly grateful for any gesture of appreciation, as evidenced by the many letters Operation Gratitude receives thanking us for our care packages:

From a Military Mom who will not get to celebrate Christmas with her children:
“My son and his fiance serve with the USS Abraham Lincoln (currently in the Gulf) and she contacted me yesterday about receiving one of your boxes. Pam couldn’t believe all the stuff that people had donated. She said she cried reading the letters enclosed because she didn’t understand why anyone cared. I told her Americans are grateful for her service, and she replied, ‘Yes, but to take time out of their busy days to collect and donate, to write me a letter, to pay for postage… all for someone they’ve never met?’ …… To receive this package right before Christmas did more good for Pam than the donors will ever realize. It had been a long hard week for her over there, and the upcoming holiday wasn’t making it better. Like a knight in shining armor Operation Gratitude stepped in and delivered a box of joy to a very special sailor. Thank you”

From a Soldier deployed for the first time:
“I would just like to thank you for sending me a care package. Especially this time of the year. This is my first deployment and my package made it a lot easier to deal with not being able to spend the holidays with my family. You have no idea the impact that you have had on my shipmates and me. Thank you once again.”

From a Marine reminded of home:
“You folks are doing a great thing. Everyone in my Platoon received a care package from Operation Gratitude. If but for one moment your mind drifts to being back at home, that one moment is priceless. You do this for us on a regular basis and words cannot begin to thank you all for your tireless efforts. To all of you, the unsung heroes behind the shadows…sacrificing your time and own money to send us packages. I am humbled by your gestures…it brings a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat to think that amid all of the death and misery we Grunts face, there are people back home who care about what we are doing. From the bottom of my heart…Thank You all and Merry Christmas…David USMC”

PLEASE…..We can’t forget them, not now, not tomorrow, not ever! Never has a tax deductible $15 donation had the ability to do so much for those who ask nothing in return.

With your support, Operation Gratitude will continue to mail care packages to service members deployed in harm’s way. Read more heartwarming troop thank you letters in Mail Call to understand how your dollars make an impact on each service member, and see the smiles you put on their faces in the Photo Gallery.

As 2010 draws to a close, please consider your tax deductible donation to help us pay the assembly and postage costs of $15 per care package. Please ensure that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine deployed in harm’s way, far from home, feels loved and appreciated this holiday season. Every tax deductible donation of $15 sends another care package, personally addressed to an American hero, and filled with 50+ assorted snack, entertainment and personal care items valued at $100 or more.

Online donations can be made here: Donate Now

Checks can be made payable and mailed to:

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

Stock Donations are welcome. For information, please email us at

Thank you for your support throughout the years. Our best wishes for a joyous Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year from all of us at Operation Gratitude!

About Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude annually sends 200,000+ care packages to Veterans, First Responders, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, their Care Givers, and to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas and their families waiting at home. Each package is filled with food, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, as well as personal letters of support. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of the Military and First Responder communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for civilians anywhere in America to express their appreciation to all who serve our nation. Each package contains donated product valued between $45 and $100 and costs our organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 1.6 Million Care Packages.
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