On Tuesday in Chatsworth, California, an estimated 2,100 Operation Gratitude volunteers cheered on as the organization’s Two millionth care package was created. The event honored the thousands of first responders who are battling the fires throughout Southern California and deployed troops who continue to serve our country.
The event also commemorated the origins of Operation Gratitude, as founder Carolyn Blashek started sending Care Packages from her Encino, Ca. domicile nearly 15 years ago. “In March of 2003, I met a soldier returning to the war zone,” said Blashek. “He had lost his entire family and believed no one would care if he never returned home. But I knew that was not true. I knew Americans care.”
Lance Corporal Hayden Grote received the 2,000,000th Care Package which came with a pair of Super Bowl Tickets courtesy of Mars Foods. The news was a surprise to the military vet (LCpl Grant York, the 1,999,999 recipient, received a wireless sound system donated by Yamaha).
“As a 20-year Marine, I can tell you that what you are doing is making a difference,” said Operation Gratitude CEO Kevin Schmiegel to the volunteers. “I have seen it firsthand in the eyes and the smiles of deployed troops who received care packages. I can also tell you as a father of an enlisted Marine, what you are doing is important.”
The Target Corporation donated $500 gift cards to 60 additional Marines who recently returned from deployment and a $10 gift card to every volunteer who attended the event. Mars Foods also committed to donating an additional $2,000,000 in products to Operation Gratitude within the next 13 months.
For more info on this non-profit organization and its respective mission, go to https://www.operationgratitude.com/.