Volunteers come together to assemble Care Packages for Deployed Troops, as part of national nonprofit Operation Gratitude’s mission to say thank you to all who serve and to provide Service Members a much-needed morale boost while serving overseas during challenging times. The care packages, assembled at the DC Armory and other sites nationwide, include handwritten letters of appreciation from grateful Americans, Handmade with Love items, single-serve snacks, candy, hygiene, and comfort items.
"It's humbling to go from opening Care Packages when deployed to now packing them. It's almost like a feeling of nostalgia. Remembering how it felt when I was on my last toothbrush or deodorant and now I get to pack a box and give back to somebody deployed. It feels really good," said Sergeant Ian Johnson. He received a care package while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and volunteered at the DC Armory in his current position in the National Guard in order to “pay it forward” in a tangible way.
More than 17 years ago, in March of 2003, Operation Gratitude sent its first four Care Packages to deployed Service Members in Iraq. Since its inception, the organization has given millions of Americans the opportunity to express appreciation through hands-on volunteerism and lifted the spirits of more than 1.8 million Deployed Troops, and another 1 million recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders and healthcare workers. Corporate partners and grateful citizens from across the country donate more than 15 million “Wish List” and handmade items each year to fill the Care Packages. Through donation drives, letter-writing campaigns, craft projects, hands-on service projects, and other activities, volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization.