Operation Gratitude


Photos courtesy of Operation Impact

Ambika Vartak - Staff Writer

On Dec. 7, Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization based in Van Nuys that provides care packages for current military soldiers, assembled its millionth care package. In March of 2003, Carolyn Blashek founded this organization out of personal experience. While working with the military lounge at the Los Angeles International Airport, a soldier came to her desk and expressed the grief he was feeling during the war due to separation from his family. Ever since this encounter, Blashek has strived to uplift the spirits of these soldiers.

Everyone, including students, has the opportunity to volunteer.  Usually, people volunteer by assembling care packages. The care packages consist of hygiene products, hand made garments and letters of appreciation. These packages go out to veterans, soldiers, airmen and marines. Over 100,000 care packages are made per year. In addition, the volunteers collect recycled goods and raise money to promote and sustain this cause. On Dec. 7, event volunteers built a display of the Vietnam Memorial Wall and honored the lives of the veterans.

“I appreciate the veterans’ service in our country and they should be rewarded for their courage and bravery,” said sophomore Sarah Jhaveri.

This organization has also gained a lot of prominence from the media. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden along with 10,000 Operation Gratitude volunteers joined together on the National Day of Service to honor the troops. Also, many of Operation Gratitude’s members have been guests on Fox, Cable News Network, National Public Radio and other broadcasting services.

In the future, Operation Gratitude hopes to expand their services to other military spots. They hope to assemble even more care packages and continue to help soldiers cope through difficult times of war.