Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit based in Southern California. They deliver care packages to American soldiers, from Marines to First Responders. Each package is individually addressed and includes a handwritten letter.
Each year, the organization delivers over 300,000 care packages. Each and every one is carefully and lovingly packaged. Inside are snacks like chocolates and chips, as well as necessities rarified by warzones, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorants.
The nonprofit was started in 2003, when the founder, Carolyn Blashek, was working at a veterans’ lounge in Los Angeles. One night, a soldier broke down. His wife had left him, his only child had passed as an infant, and while he was abroad, his mother passed away and the soldier wasn’t even able to attend the funeral. “I’m going back over there; I know I won’t make it back this time,” Blashek remembered him saying, “but it doesn’t really matter because no-one would even care.”
Since that moment, Blashek, and later her nonprofit, worked tirelessly to let soldiers know that they care; that there are others that care. Thousands of care packages are sent every single month from Operation Gratitude and their reach extends far beyond the Los Angeles area. People from all over America volunteer with Operation Gratitude. The nonprofit has challenges like the #makeeveryminutecount challenge and the 100 Paracord challenge, as well as direct volunteering opportunities- such as writing letters and making care packages.
Operation Gratitude offers a great opportunity for Lion’s Heart volunteers to give back to our soldiers. Members can volunteer both individually or with their groups and the volunteer experience gives a unique opportunity for members to give back to our soldiers.
Mandy is a junior at Woodbridge High School and a Lion’s Heart summer intern. She enjoys Taekwondo, reading and writing fiction, as well as volunteering at her local library. She’s been a member of Lion’s Heart since May of 2017.