Having already shipped more than 600,000 care packages to service men and women deployed in combat zones, Operation Gratitude is pleased to announce the launch of “Battalion Buddies” — a new program designed to serve and encourage the young children of deploying troops.
In cooperation with Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide, Operation Gratitude will begin providing 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. LTC Angel Ortiz, seeing the McKesson stuffed animals during a recent Care Package Assembly, 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 encourage the children of troops serving in combat by making financial donations to purchase and ship Battalion Buddies.
Donations can be made online here: Donate to Battalion Buddies or by check made payable and addressed to:
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436
Corporate Donors should contact Carolyn Blashek at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding sponsorship opportunities.
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