In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude will provide special stuffed toys -- known as Battalion Buddies -- to the sons and daughters of U.S. military personnel as their units prepare to deploy.
"Our hope is these gifts will offer some degree of comfort to children while their moms and dads are far away, serving their country," explained Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek. "We want the children to know that they too have caring friends across the country who are aware of their sacrifices and send their appreciation."
Aided by an initial donation of 28,000 stuffed toys hand-made by employees of the McKesson Corporation, and a follow-up donation of the cards by Tobu Print Group, Operation Gratitude was inspired to provide Battalion Buddies by the Commanding Officer of the National Guard armory in which the group operates. Upon seeing the McKesson stuffed animals during a recent Care Package Assembly, Lt. Colonel Angel Ortiz asked whether Operation Gratitude could donate some for his units that would soon deploy.
"I realized these cuddly animals would be a perfect item for the children to hug as they were about to say 'Good-bye' to their parent," said LTC Ortiz. "In addition, the animals would be a beautiful gift from the American people to say 'Thank you' to the military children who serve our nation in their own special and courageous way."
As with its Care Packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddies Program will provide every American opportunities to support the children of troops serving in combat by donating stuffed toys and contributing funds.
Those wishing to donate stuffed toys to be used as Battalion Buddies may send them to the following address:
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Battalion Buddies Program
Financial donations can be made online at the Operation Gratitude website: https://www.opgratitude.com or by check made payable and addressed to:
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436
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Non-profit, volunteer organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in combat. Mission: Lift morale & say thanks