soldier-driving-motorcycle-opGratitudeA charity rally to “Support the Troops” got very loud with two thousand cheering Operation Gratitude volunteers and the arrival of a very special gift to be sent in the organization’s 600,000th Care Package: A 2011 Victory motorcycle.

Wearing fatigues, Elizabeth Cowie, the co-founder of the organization, drove in the bike and added the vehicle’s key, along with other gifts, to the milestone package, which was proudly assembled and held by Ann Kurachi, a volunteer from Trabuco Hills High School.

Carolyn Blashek, who started the organization in 2003, thanked Victory Motorcycles, a division of Polaris Industries, for their generous donation of the motorcycle, and recognized the tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters who have contributed throughout the years to the assembly and shipment of 600,000 care packages.

“Operation Gratitude Care Packages are an expression of enormous respect and appreciation for those who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way,” said Blashek.  “We are honored to send this exciting 600,000th package to a young service member currently deployed, and representing all our courageous service personnel from all branches of the military.”

In addition to the all-black motorcycle, a Victory Vegas 8-Ball cruiser, the package will include a year’s supply of both Emergen-C and 5 Hour Energy, a lovingly hand-made scarf, a Flip camera from Cafe Press, a DVD player and other electronics, a signed picture from the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, and assorted items and personal letters provided by more than 250 Corporate Sponsors and Friends, and by tens of thousands of individual donors across the country.

A secret but very special delivery of the 600,000th Care Package is underway. And with that, Operation Gratitude wraps up its 2010 Holiday Drive with an announcement that a total of 100,000 care packages were sent this year to U.S. Service Members.

Since its inception the group has used $6 Million in postage to send 30 million individual items and more than $60 million worth of product

Significant check contributions made by corporate sponsors at the rally assures the continued operation next year:

  • Cinnabon, Inc ($50,000)
  • Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run ($33,800)
  • Lake Havasu Patriot Days ($34,000, 1000 Stuffed Animals, and 200 hand-made Scarves)
  • National Charity League, San Fernando Valley Chapter ($20,000)
  • Coast to Coast Computer Products ($20,000)

The organization’s mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member’s face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship.  Two million packets of Emergen-C have been included in Operation Gratitude packages since 2004.

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