From its inception in 2003, the mission of Operation Gratitude has been to lift morale, put a smile on a service member's face and to express the appreciation of the American people for the sacrifices of the men and women defending our freedom. What began in one woman's living room has spread across the entire country, bringing together volunteers of all ages, ethnic groups and economic backgrounds—doing everything from donating "wish list" items, to sending in financial contributions, writing letters of thanks to include in each box and convening at the National Guard Armory in Van Nuys, CA for the caring and joyful assembly of thousands upon thousands of care packages.
In 2006 alone, our volunteers donated more than 53,000 hours of their time and talents to help make Operation Gratitude's goals a reality. Due to their efforts, by mid-December 2007, over 300,000 packages will have been sent to individually-named troops deployed in combat zones overseas. This is possible because our volunteers work tirelessly and diligently to transform 1,500 flat boxes into goody-filled care packages that are taped, labeled, custom-formed and whisked out the door and into a U.S. Postal Service truck every hour!
More than 3,000 local Operation Gratitude volunteers put their hearts into every care package. Operation Gratitude volunteers are an eclectic group encompassing people in their 80s working side by side with teenagers. We have people from every walk of life including the rich and the poor, the able bodied, the handicapped, all races, nationalities and political persuasions. While our volunteers are quite diverse, they are confidently united in purpose: to show our respect, love and appreciation—and to pay back in some small measure what can never be fully repaid—the debt of gratitude we owe our heroes: the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.