By Freddy Groves
In just one week recently, Operation Gratitude received requests for 11,124 packages to be sent out. There was no panic — its 322 volunteers went into action and got it done, and someone even managed to shoot a short video of their assembly line. The dilemma: It costs $15 to mail each and every box.
While many items in the boxes are donated by corporations, the shipping costs are all on us, people who send a few dollars to help them get the care packages to those who need them. This year OpGrat’s goal is to send out 150,000 packages.
Operation Gratitude started in 2003 as a kitchen-table project by one woman, Carolyn Blashek. Because it was a great idea, people and corporations stepped up to help. They now send care packages to Wounded Warriors in hospitals and transition units, veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and group homes, caregivers, individually named service members overseas, Battalion Buddies (the children of deployed military personnel), military and veteran families who are facing hardship, and new recruits. In 2013, it passed the 1 million care-packages mark.
If you’re into the math, Operation Gratitude is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Its financials are an open book (with auditor reports posted on the website), and it carries a 5-star rating from Guide Star charity watchdogs. Each care package contains donated goodies in the $75-$100 range.
Ready to open your wallet and help? You can donate online at operationgratitude.com (look for the “Donate” button), or you can send a check to Operation Gratitude, P.O. Box 260257, Encino, CA 91426-0257. If your group wants to help, the website has a long list of ways you can participate. Want to see the little video and lots of great pics? Check Twitter @OpGratitude.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.