Human Services

OPERATION GRATITUDE INC

Saying "Thank You" to All Who Serve

aka Operation Gratitude   |   Encino, CA   |  www.operationgratitude.com

Mission

To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.

Ruling year info

2003

Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Schmiegel

Main address

PO Box 260257

Encino, CA 91426-0257 USA

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EIN

20-0103575

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since 9/11, observers have acknowledged a widening gap of understanding and a lessening of engagement between the 2.1 million Americans who serve in our all-volunteer military force and the rest of the population, even though 75% of military families live within civilian communities. Unfortunately, a similar "civilian-service divide" is developing between the general public and the 2.3 million police and firefighters who also serve in harm's way. In the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics survey issued last fall, the number of Americans age 16 or older who had contact with the police declined from 26% to 21% in four years, a drop of more than 9 million people. Operation Gratitude is uniquely poised to bridge the civilian-service divide described above. Civilians everywhere want to show their appreciation and support but do not always know how. Operation Gratitude makes it easy for everyday citizens to participate in "bridging the divide".

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Care Package Program

Operation Gratitude sends 350,000+ individually addressed care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to Recruit Graduates, Veterans, First Responders, and Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers. Each package contains food, hygiene, entertainment and handmade items, as well as personal letters of support.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel
Emergency responders

When possible, Operation Gratitude prioritizes the direct delivery of our Care Packages to Military, Veterans, and First Responders by our volunteers. These activities bring communities together through volunteer service projects and related activities, offering grateful Americans tangible ways to say "thank you" to all who serve. These actions spark relationships that help forge strong bonds and bridge the civilian-service divide in communities nationwide.

Population(s) Served
Emergency responders
Military personnel

Virtual volunteerism provides ways for individuals, groups and businesses to contribute and give back from within their own homes and communities, providing every American the opportunity to express appreciation to their military and first responder heroes by writing heartfelt letters, knitting, crocheting and sewing projects and making paracord bracelets and other handmade items.

Population(s) Served
General/Unspecified

Where we work

Awards

Citizenship Award 2011

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Minerva Award 2010

California Women's Conference

Jefferson Award 2012

ABC7 Los Angeles

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Military personnel,Emergency responders,Veterans

Related Program

Care Package Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number represents all those who donate their time, talent, and treasure as a tangible demonstration of their gratitude to their military and first responder heroes.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Demonstrating that actions speak louder than words, Operation Gratitude provides tangible ways to forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. Operation Gratitude is one of the largest nonprofit in the country for hands-on volunteerism in support of Military, Veterans, and First Responders. Since 2003, the organization has delivered more than 2.5 Million Care Packages and has provided opportunities for countless Americans to forge strong bonds with their Military and First Responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide. In 2019 alone, more than 1 Million volunteers participated in 10,000 Operation Gratitude Service Projects nationwide. A Care Package brings joy to a Service Member stationed far from home or enables a Veteran to feel appreciated -- many for the first time. Our Care Packages for Wounded Heroes and Caregivers let them know that they are seen and that their great sacrifices for us are honored. Our Battalion Buddies bring comfort to the children of Deployed Troops at a very stressful time in their young lives. When we hand deliver Care Pouches to new Officer and Recruit Graduates, they know that as they begin their career of service to our great nation, they are supported along the way. And the delivery of First Responder Care Packages shows local heroes that their community values them in an often thankless job. In unique and trying times, when circumstances prevent large groups of people from gathering together to create and deliver Care Packages, Operation Gratitude provides direct support to those serving our nation and their communities with bulk deliveries of donated items and handwritten letters of support. In addition, Operation Gratitude always provides meaningful ways for every grateful American to give back from their own homes through Virtual Volunteerism. Specific Goals include: -Supporting all members of our Military while deployed to ensure a tangible recognition of America’s sincere and enduring gratitude for their service and sacrifice -Establishing a presence in all entry-level training environments spread across every service component of the Armed Forces -Create enduring relationships with military commands, family support groups, nonprofit partners and Veteran Service Organizations to facilitate meaningful engagements between service members and their families, veterans, and grateful volunteers who participate in our direct deliveries - Facilitate 10,000 service projects in support of Operation Gratitude annually

Care Packages for Deployed Troops, Veterans, Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers: Grateful Americans and service friendly companies donate millions of products and handmade items each year. Hundreds of volunteers come together to assemble the Care Packages at large-scale “Assembly Days” at the organization's facility in Chatsworth, CA, as well as at off-site assembly days in select cities nationwide . The Care Packages are then mailed to individually named Deployed Troops, Veterans, Wounded Heroes and Caregivers. Care Pouches for First Responders and Recruit Graduates: at corporate events and large-scale Assembly Days, volunteers assemble Operation Gratitude signature red Care Pouches filled with useful and heartfelt items for First Responders and Recruit Graduates. Operation Gratitude staff and community volunteers then hand deliver the Care Pouches to say “Thank You” to all who serve. Battalion Buddies for the children of Deployed Troops: corporations across the country purchase Operation Gratitude – branded stuffed teddy bear skins. At corporate events, employees stuff the bear skins, transforming them into Battalion Buddies. These Battalion Buddies are delivered to the children of deployed or deploying troops to provide a special source of comfort while their parent is away. As often as possible, Operation Gratitude hand delivers Battalion Buddies at send-off events, holiday parties, and other events. Halloween Candy Give-Back Program: More than 400,000 pounds of Halloween candy are collected annually and sent to Operation Gratitude. The collection sites are local schools, churches, youth groups, and community-based organizations nationwide. Operation Gratitude then includes this candy in its Care Packages. In addition, local organizations are encouraged to donate candy directly to their local First Responders, with Operation Gratitude acting as the facilitator. Corporate Volunteerism: Operation Gratitude offers an easy solution for Corporate Social Responsibility programs by providing the means for companies to offer meaningful hands-on volunteer opportunities on-site. Employees write “thank you” letters, organize collection drives, create paracord survival bracelets, stuff Battalion Buddies, and assemble care kits for inclusion in Care Packages. Handmade with Love: Handmade with Love items such as knit scarves, hats and paracord survival bracelets are among the most cherished items in Operation Gratitude signature Care Packages and Care Pouches, which demonstrates that a grateful American is willing to take the time to create something by hand as a show of their appreciation. In 2019, individuals from all corners of the U.S. contributed nearly 200,000 handmade items to Operation Gratitude. Virtual Volunteerism : Virtual volunteerism provides ways for individuals, groups and businesses to give back from their own homes, giving every American the opportunity to express appreciation to military, veteran and frontline heroes.

Nationally, Operation Gratitude encompasses supporters in every state: College campuses, scout troops, religious congregations, homeowner associations, places of business, civic groups and schools are just some of the communities that join our mission nationwide through a variety of activities. The care packages are assembled in a 35,000 square foot warehouse in Chatsworth, California by a dedicated team of American citizens: seniors working side by side with teenagers; people from every walk of life, rich and poor, able bodied and handicapped; members of every race, nationality and political persuasion, all joined together in common cause to put a smile on a hero's face. During our “Assembly Days," several hundred to a thousand volunteers form assembly lines to produce the care packages. In less than one minute, an unassembled box is completely filled with an assortment of items to include snacks, entertainment items, toiletries, the Operation Gratitude Magazine and personal heart-warming notes from Americans back home. Every hour, approximately 3,500 such care packages, containing up to fifty items each, are produced and loaded onto a waiting U.S. Postal Service or freight truck. A wide variety of groups and organizations participate with Operation Gratitude on site, including Boy and Girl Scouts, senior citizen groups, schools, churches, special needs students and adults, rehabilitation facilities, corporate employees, civic groups and sports teams. There is a job for every person. Similarly, Care Pouches are assembled for Recruit Graduates and First Responders at these same Assembly Days as well as during off-site and corporate sponsored events. Our programs directly benefit individuals and the community. For retirees, the elderly, the handicapped and for Veterans of all eras, Operation Gratitude is a way to stay active and engaged through purposeful volunteerism while still serving their country in a productive and meaningful way. Students seeking community service hours not only meet and work with our diverse group of volunteers, but also learn to respect our nation's service members and first responders. Corporate employees find not only a great team building exercise, but also a heartwarming experience.

Each activity or engagement is designed to drive the following four outcomes: (1) Demand - increase demand for Operation Gratitude Care Packages across all programs in order to say "Thank You" to ALL who serve. (2) Development - growing existing partnerships and creating new ones to support all programs. (3) Volunteerism - create opportunities for tangible volunteerism at the grassroots level and beyond. Our goal for 2020 is 10,000 service projects and more than 1 million volunteers who donate their time, talent, and treasure as a tangible demonstration of their gratitude to their military and first responder heroes, to forge strong bonds with the same, and as a direct mechanism for building and strengthening communities nationwide. (4) Media and Branding - utilizing social media marketing campaigns and projecting the Operation Gratitude brand across multiple digital and social media outlets, as a way to encourage individuals and groups, to include civic, community, and Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), and corporations to support their military and first responder communities. Additionally, the thousands of emails received by Operation Gratitude indicate that progress is being made in terms of the feelings of those receiving the Care Packages and how they feel supported by the community, leading to bridging the civilian-service divide. LTC Schmiegel (RET), Ma’am, Sir, and all contacts for OPERATION GRATITUDE, Hello and Happy Holidays from the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. I would like to personally thank you for taking the time to coordinate, find resources, put together and send off this wonderful care package my soldiers received today! While our units --- are away from family and friends during this holiday season. Your kind and caring hearts were felt across a vast stretch of miles when they received your care package. It brought many smiles to the soldiers and the local workforce that work in our section. Your gracious efforts will be felt for months to come, as these items will be a reminder that "someone" out there cares for these soldiers who choose to serve their country regardless of the time or season. Once again, thank you for being so generous, by offering your time and effort to provide comfort to those who are far, far, away this year. With warmest regards, C. K. M. MAJ, MI MFO CJ2/TFS S2 Dear Operation Gratitude, Thank you! This package arrived on Christmas Eve when I was having a rough time. The thoughtfulness and care that was shown by strangers not only made me cry while reading the letter, but lifted my spirits. The tissues came in handy. During this time of year, when stress pushes us to our limits, it’s nice to know that somebody, somewhere, knows what we are going through. And for that, I am grateful to everyone involved. Thank you so much. C.T., Caregiver

Accomplishments: • 94 cents of every dollar donated goes to program services; fundraising expenses less than 2.5% • Administrative and fundraising expenses are the lowest in the Military Support community • 2.5 Million+ care packages assembled & shipped to date • One million plus active, engaged volunteers in 2019 •370,000+ opted-in social media contacts: Email, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In, Blog, Instagram • Average Annual website hits: 23,000,000; Average Annual website visits: 421,000 • One of the top viewed charities on Guidestar.org; prestigious accreditation by Better Business Bureau What Distinguishes Us From Other Programs: • Overseas packages personally addressed to an individual service member, which makes the recipient feel he/she is not just a number, but an honored individual • Large-scale off-site Assembly days in cities nationwide• 350,000+ Packages assembled and shipped every year • Provides unlimited volunteer opportunities for every American to give back in a meaningful, unique way from their place of work as well as from their homes • BRIDGE Council - corporate and civic leaders, and Military, Veteran and first Responder service advocates bringing communities together through hands-on volunteerism and direct interactions • Assembly and direct delivery of Care Packages by community volunteers, which lead to increased understanding of what it means to serve, and stronger connections, which ultimately lead to stronger communities and bridging of the civilian-service divide.

Financials

OPERATION GRATITUDE INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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OPERATION GRATITUDE INC

Board of directors
as of 4/15/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Martha "Marty" Martin

Liddy, Martin

Term: 2013 - 2017

Jordan Blashek

Schmidt Futures

Martha "Marty" Martin

Insurance Executive

Richard Saklad

99 Cent Only Stores

Robert Raskin

Owens-Illinois

Sharman Borncamp

TransTechnology Corporation

Katelynn Duffel

AT&T Entertainment Group

Joe Kristol

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Keywords

care packages, military, troops, servicemembers, soldiers, Marines, Iraq, Afghanistan, appreciation, war, terrorism, Army, Air Force, Navy, packages, gifts, Veterans, Recruits, Wounded Warriors, BridgetheDivide, Actions Speak Louder than Words, Virtual Volunteerism, volunteerism