4 Summer Activities to Support Our Nation’s Heroes

Summer Activities Operation Gratitude

The warm weather of summer signals time for fun, family and Fourth of July festivities. With kids on a break from school, and vacation and wedding season in full swing, this is a great time to get the whole family involved in activities that say “Thank You” to our Military, Veterans and First Responders.

1) Postcards of Gratitude
Going on vacation? Pick up a few postcards from your favorite destinations to write a short note of thanks to our nation’s heroes.

Bundle them up (a regular or manila envelope will do) and send them to us when you get back! We’ll be sure to put them into care packages on your behalf.

We accept drawings, letters, notes, and postcards at our new address:
Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278

2) Block Party With a Purpose
Does your neighborhood host block parties throughout the summer or for the 4th of July celebration?

It’s easy to turn your festivities into a way to say “Thank You” to our nation’s heroes by incorporating a simple Collection Drive into the fun. We even have a printable flyer ready to pass around to friends and family! Then, just designate a drop-off location at your event for people to place their items.

When you’re ready to send the items to us, fill out a donor form and mail them to:
Operation Gratitude
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311

Additional donation and shipping information is available, if needed.

Or, you can drop off items at The FOB if you live in the Los Angeles area.

3) Lemonade Stand: Sweet Support for Our Heroes
Grab the kids and their friends for a good ole’ fashioned lemonade stand to help neighbors quench their thirst and beat the heat. Just place a mason jar or decorated container out to collect donations and extra change on behalf of Operation Gratitude’s “Cents for Service” drive. Loose change adds up quickly and helps cover the cost of sending the care packages!

With the help of an adult, kids can cash in the change at their local bank and have a parent mail a check made payable to OPERATION GRATITUDE or you can make the donation online.

Mail financial donations to:
Operation Gratitude
P.O. Box 260257
Encino, CA 91426-0257

4) An Alternative to Anniversary Presents, Wedding Favors & Wedding Gifts
The traditional “wedding season” may be in full swing, but your anniversary gifts, wedding favors and wedding gift ideas can be anything but traditional.

Can’t decide on the perfect gift?

Sponsor an Operation Gratitude care package (or several) “In Honor Of” the happy couple or each member of your wedding party. Their names will be included in the care packages, and they’ll receive a letter notifying them of your gift.

Donations can be made online or sent by mail to:
Operation Gratitude
PO Box 260257
Encino, CA 91426-0257

If you live in Southern California, your entire bridal party is always welcome to join us at an Assembly Day before your Big Day!

Or, you could host a Collection Drive at your bridal shower – regardless of where you’re celebrating.

We would love to hear about your summer support efforts! Feel free to email your stories or questions to Info@OperationGratitude.com

Remember to take pictures…we’d love to see your hard work in action and share it with care package recipients! You can tag us on social media — @OpGratitude for Twitter and Instagram, @OperationGratitude on Facebook, or use the hashtag #OperationGratitude.

Thank you!

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Knit & Crochet This Summer to Keep Deployed Troops Warm This Winter!

Scarves for TroopsDo you love to knit or crochet? Have you been looking for a project to use up your piles of leftover yarn? Do you want to help thank and support deployed U.S. Service Members?

If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Below are links to ALL the information you’ll need to participate in Operation Gratitude’s “Handmade with Love” Program where volunteers all across the country lovingly make and donate scarves and hats for our care packages.

Scarves & Hats for Troops

“Handmade with Love” FAQsHandmade with Love Hat

Suggested “Handmade with Love” Patterns

Made with Love Flyer — print and share!

Shipping & Donation Information

We know the gifts you make will be treasured by the Service Members who receive them!

Please send us an email if you have any questions about our “Handmade with Love” Programs or any other Operation Gratitude-related questions, please contact us at Info@OperationGratitude.com.

Thank you!


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Operation Gratitude on ABC’s “The Chew”

Did you catch “The Chew” on ABC when the work of Operation Gratitude was featured recently? Even if you did see it, we think you’ll agree that it’s worth watching again! If you missed it, we highly recommend that you take a few minutes to see how they told our story.

Watch this YouTube video of our segment — look for some familiar faces!

We are very grateful to “The Chew” for helping us get the word out about our cause.

If your loved one is a deployed U.S. Service Member, we hope you will request an Operation Gratitude care package today: http://bit.ly/RequestaCarePackage

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please let us know by sending an email to Info@OperationGratitude.com

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What a Care Package Means to Someone Far From Home…

Sometimes when you write letters for Operation Gratitude care packages, you will hear back from one or more of the recipients. That was the case for volunteer and supporter, Sara S., who recently shared this with us:

“I met R. via Operation Gratitude while he was serving in the Navy in Afghanistan in September 2014. We still email regularly. He is home now and is proud to serve as an officer for the NYPD.”

R. with his father at his NYPD Academy graduation.

R. with his father at his NYPD Academy graduation.

Sara wanted us to know what R. told her about receiving care packages and what it means to those who are deployed. With his permission, and in his own words, here is what he wrote:

“Every box, every piece of paper, every book, every pen, every pencil, every notebook, every brush, every tooth paste, every shower gel, every puzzle, every magazine, every letter, every candy…… means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us Hope, Confidence, Happiness, Strength & Pride that somebody thinks about us, someone is there for us. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You all. God Bless America. R.P.”

Would you like to write letters for our care packages? Here is helpful information: http://bit.ly/TakeTimetoSayThanks

Every donation of $15 helps pay the costs to ship another Operation Gratitude care package. Please consider making a donation today: http://bit.ly/OpGratDonateNow

If your loved one is deployed, we hope you will request a care package: http://bit.ly/RequestaCarePackage

Questions? Let us know! Send an email to: Info@OperationGratitude.com

Thank you for your support!

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A Delicious Way to Make a Difference

We are grateful to once again be among the more than 180 charities supported nationwide by Jersey Mike’s Subs during its 6th Annual Month of Giving, which is off to a great start!

Month of Giving 2016In 2015, our partnership with 91 local Jersey Mike’s stores helped us send over 26,000 care packages. This year we will receive financial donations, handwritten letters and community support from 104 Jersey Mike’s in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Fresno Counties!

On the Day of GivingWednesday, Day of Giving 2016March 30 — 100% of sales from those stores will be donated to our charity!

That’s every penny from every sale!

Here is a link to all the stores that support Operation Gratitude: http://bit.ly/MonthofGiving2016

We’d love to see your Jersey Mike’s photos during the Month of Giving! Please email them to Info@OperationGratitude.com and we’ll share them on one or more of our social media pages. (Or if you post them on social media yourself, please use the #OperationGratitude and #JerseyMikesGives hashtags so we can find them!)

No matter where you live, you can help a worthy cause when you make a donation at your local Jersey Mike’s this month. ALL the charities and links to the participating stores are here: https://www.jerseymikes.com/mog/#charities

Questions? Please let us know by sending an email to Info@OperationGratitude.com

THANK YOU for your support! And a million thanks to Jersey Mike’s for making a difference for so many great charities!


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“Every penny counts…”

This is a special guest blog post from our friends Mercera and Madeleine, “two fifth graders who wanted to make a difference,” and chose to support Operation Gratitude! We are so very honored and grateful!

Here’s what they did and how they did it:

One afternoon, we were talking to a good friend of ours about her son who is in the Marine Corps. She was telling us how he had been away for a whole year serving in Japan! She was"Cents for Soldiers" so excited that he was finally coming home for the holidays. She said that some Marines couldn’t fly home due to the expense and really missed home. We really wanted to do something to help and an idea was born! Cents for Soldiers!

First, we started planning! Our parents helped us find a great cause to donate to – Operation Gratitude! They provide care packages and letters for service members, veterans and first responders. Perfect! We also decided it would be good to involve the school. We talked to a great teacher to get some advice.

Next, we made a poster and presented our idea to our principal. He approved of our ideas and helped us take the next steps. The school secretary made a great flyer (at left) that went home "Cents for Soldiers" Flyerto all of the students asking them to bring any spare change they could to donate to help the soldiers. The class that raised the most money would get 20 extra minutes of recess – supervised by the principal.

We also asked the kids in the school to write cards and letters to send to the soldiers. We used decorated shoe boxes and delivered them to each class to collect the money. Every day we made an announcement over the loud speaker at school reminding kids to bring in their change and letters! A few days into the collection, we updated everyone on which class was in the lead. There were A LOT of coins to count! We got some friends to help!

After about 10 days, the collection was over. We had so many coins; it had to have been at least 20 pounds!!! We would probably still have been counting them now, but we decided to take them to the coin counter at the bank! Phew! When a bank customer saw what we were"Cents for Soldiers" Fundraiser doing, she even gave us $5 on the spot!

In the end, we and our school raised $1,844.81 and wrote close to 30 letters! This was enough for 123 care packages for soldiers! We were surprised and so happy and proud!

Here are our tips for other kids to help make a difference in their own community:

  • Plan ahead. Write your plans down. Get help from a trusted adult, friend or friends!
  • Stay organized. We kept careful notes and checked them often.
  • Get your school or community involved. (Don’t forget to ask permission.) You will be amazed how many people care.
  • Contact the organization you want to donate to and let them know what you’re doing.
  • Work hard, be patient, and don’t let any problems stop you!
  • Every penny counts! Even small amounts can make a difference.
  • Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t do it! If we can do it, so can you, too!
           – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 

"Cents for Service"!Thank you, Mercera and Madeleine, for all your hard work and generosity to support our cause! Your work will continue to have an impact because you’ve inspired us to begin a new Operation Gratitude program called “Cents for Service” so others may follow your wonderful example.

Have ideas about ways in which you’d like to support Operation Gratitude? Please contact us by email at: 

Thank you!

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A New Year…and a New Home!

From all of us at Operation Gratitude, we want to wish everyone a very happy new year! As always, our thoughts and thanks today are with the troops, veterans, first responders and military families, who have made daily sacrifices in service to our country. We are deeply grateful.

We are also pleased and excited to share the news that we’ve moved into our new home!

Our 2016 Volunteer Schedule has been posted and you can find it along with important volunteer instructions here. We hope you will join us at FOB Operation Gratitude as often as you’re able!

Of course, no matter where you live, there are many different ways you can support our cause: Help Make More Smiles!

Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or ideas by sending an email to Info@OperationGratitude.comWe would love to hear from you!

Be sure to check out our social media sites, too: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Thank you for your support! Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

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A Simple Text Can Help Send More Care Packages!

We know care packages = SMILES, and we just love seeing smiles like these! Don’t you? Our troops work hard all year long, and during the holiday season it must be more difficult than ever to be away from loved ones and the comforts of home.

Operation Gratitude Care Packages = SMILES!
Want to help raise funds for our cause? Please text the word “HOME” to 89800 and for every valid text* received by December 31, Sutter Home Wines will donate five dollars to Operation Gratitude, up to $20,000!

It’s so simple! Once you send the text, you’ll receive a message that will look something like this:Send a Text to Support our Troops!

Please help us spread the word about this promotion.

Thank you very much for your help and support!

*Limit one text per phone.

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Join Peet’s Coffee in Thanking Troops & Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, our friends at Peet’s Coffee & Tea want to show their gratitude!

Now through November 17 stop by your local Peet’s to purchase and donate a 1 lb. bag of Major Dickason’s Blend. The coffee will be donated to Operation Gratitude for our care packages and Peet’s will match that with an additional $5 donation (up to $35,000!) to help fill and send MORE care packages! We are very grateful for Peet’s generous support!Peets

Active-duty U.S. Service Members and Veterans receive free small coffee or tea on 11/11.

Last, but certainly not least, you can join Operation Gratitude and Peet’s in thanking and celebrating those who have served. Write a letter and it will be sent in an Operation Gratitude care package: bit.ly/PeetsOperationGratitude

Find a Peet’s café near you: http://www.peets.com/store-locator

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

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You’re a Life-Saver!

Life SaverIn 2012, Operation Gratitude included the very first paracord “survival” bracelets in care packages to First Responders. The response was overwhelmingly positive so we decided to send them in every care package we could!

We asked you, our volunteers, to make thousands of paracord bracelets. As always, you farBracelet Volunteer exceeded expectations! To date, you have made more than 200,000 bracelets that have been sent to Deployed Troops, New Recruits, and First Responders!

Now we have a new challenge for you. Read on….

Why Paracord Bracelets?

A paracord bracelet can be worn as a cool-looking accessory, or used as a handy tool in a variety of situations. It can even save lives! One bracelet can be turned into a sling or splint, be pulled apart and used as sutures to close a wound, or act as a harness to remove an injured person from a bad location.

Click here to read about the many critical uses of our paracord bracelets.

One Sailor recently wrote to us:

“I have used three of your bracelets so far. The first one I gave away to a 10-year-old patient who saw it on my bag (where I kept it in plain site for anyone to use) and he put it on as just a bracelet from an ‘American’! The next time I needed one was when a stray dog entered our site and we were going to use it as a leash to get him out, but he left on his own. The second and third time I actually used the bracelets was to extend a ladder, you know one of those ladders with the pulley on it to extend it about twice its height, so our guys could put a satellite dish on a roof. Strong stuff. I actually did get that cord back, but then since it was already unraveled we ended up using it to tie shower curtains up (that we were using as visual barriers) because we ran out of shower curtain hooks! Amazing what you can do when you have a little string on you! –P.A.”

Above all, paracord bracelets made by our volunteers let our Service Members know that folks back home recognize their sacrifice and care about their well-being.

Introducing Our New, “Quick-Deploy” Paracord Bracelets

OpGrat Green BraceletIn response to urgent requests from our troops, we recently switched from the old cobra stitch bracelets to our new “quick-deploy” bracelets. Why? Because this new style of bracelet takes only 30-seconds to unravel, whereas the old style took up to five minutes — much too long to wait in an emergency! Plus, our “quick-deploy” bracelets don’t require buckles or a wooden jig to complete.

We are deeply grateful for the cobra bracelets you have already donated–and all will be used. Now we’re excited to continue working with you as we transition to our new, more practical, design!

Click here to learn how to make our new quick-deploy paracord “survival” bracelets! You will love how quick and easy they are to assemble.

Have questions about our new paracord bracelets? Check out our FAQs & Tips here.

If you have additional questions, please send an email to Info@OperationGratitude.com.

Thank you for your tireless and caring support!

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