Military care packages – A little piece of home that makes a big impact

U.S. troops have left Iraq, ending 9 years of war, but there are still many troops deployed in areas around the world. They are serving while away from home, families and familiar faces.

This December, Operation Gratitude celebrated its 750,000th care package sent to deployed troops. With the help of corporate partners and volunteers, Operation Gratitude sends care packages year around to troops deployed in harm’s way, and to wounded soldiers recuperating in transition units.

“There are still hundreds of thousands of troops who are away from home, away from their loved ones at all times of the year,” says Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude. “There is absolutely still a need for care packages.”

One corporate partner is Meda Consumer Healthcare Inc., which donated to the troops more than 250,000 samples of Vivarin and close to 700 hand-written postcards from Meda Consumer Healthcare employees and family members. “Vivarin helps promote mental alertness when needed, and can help troops stay focused during tough missions,” says Joana Martins, senior brand manager. “Often soldiers are in the field and on the job during extended periods of time and at odd hours. Sending them Vivarin and hand-written best wishes post cards was our way to say thank you for all they do for us.”

There are many ways to get involved. Financial donations are always welcome. However, that is not the only way to help. Here are some tips on ways you can support our nation’s military personnel:

* Send hand-written notes to our soldiers. The 5 or 10 minutes it might take you to fill in a postcard could mean the world to a soldier stationed away from family and friends.

* Organize fundraisers to collect candy, movies, new toothbrushes and other items.

* Join a group of friends to make hand-knit or crocheted scarves and hats.

* If you can help financially, $ 15 donations can pay for postage expenses. Consider setting up a monthly donation via your bank to help keep the organization financed all year long.

* Volunteering your time to send troops packages will definitely help lift their spirits. If you leave near Los Angeles, help Operation Gratitude pack care packages on Saturday mornings.

You can find more information about donating and Operation Gratitude’s needs at

Helping out in any way or form is a blessing. The important thing is let troops know that they are not forgotten.