Create for a Cause

Operation Gratitude

Carolyn Blashek founded Operation Gratitude in her living room in 2003, sending out care packages to U.S. troops in combat zones. Since then, they have created several additional care package programs in response to the developing needs within the military. So far, Operation Gratitude has sent out more than 1,275,000 care packages to wounded warriors, veterans, new recruits, and deployed members of all military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and to units from all states and territories! Not only do they send much needed supplies to the troops, but the handmade items, letters, and postcards really help raise morale and remind the soldiers that we care.

On top of helping veterans, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines deployed overseas, Operation Gratitude also has a Battalion Buddy Program where they have sent out more than 92,000 cuddly stuffed animals to the children of deployed service members. They also create disaster relief first responder care kits, disaster relief supplies, and care packages for care givers and wounded warriors. 

Letters, emails, and photos pour in from recipients of Operation Gratitude’s Holiday Drive care packages year after year from soldiers based all over the world. This particular thank you letter from a helicopter pilot based in Afghanistan reminds us that every little bit helps: “I have a scarf here that was sent as a gift, and I wanted to thank you so very much for your effort in sending a little bit of ‘home’ to us over here in Afghanistan. The holidays are particularly difficult for us so far away from home. I’ve been married for 10 years, and have three children with my wife; I have spent five years of our 10 together away from home on deployments. I miss my family terribly. You, however, gave me a moment of grace and peace from combat with your gift that reminded of me of the good things back home. I wish to sincerely thank you for your gift. Sincerely, CW3 M.J.” 

Even with more than a million care packages sent, their work is never done. Tens of thousands of American troops are constantly deployed overseas, far from home and loved ones, and many veterans are homeless or ill. Operation Gratitude helps express gratitude to our military and provides a way for the citizens to say “thank you” in an active, warm, and meaningful way. Let’s make sure that none of the care packages sent out this year leave without a handmade scarf to remind our soldiers that we care and to keep them warm during the winter holidays. Knit the Chunky Candy Cane Scarf on page 88 of the Holiday 2015 issue or search our site for more scarf patterns.

Send your scarves to:
Operation Gratitude
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
ATTN: Scarves for troops 

Scarves should be 5-6” across and 45-48” long so they fit into the care packages. Keep color schemes subtle and no fringe! Military personnel cannot wear a depiction of the flag so steer away from using a red, white, and blue color scheme. Make sure to attach a short note for the soldier receiving your scarf with the fiber content and your email address. For a list of helpful tips and guidelines on sending a handmade scarf, visit www.opgrat.wordpress.com/scarves-for-troops. Make sure to take a photo of your scarf and email us at editorial@craftideas.com. We’ll post updated info on our social sites throughout the upcoming months. If you know of a great organization that is promoting creative, crafty call-outs, or one that needs our readers’ help, please let us know. Happy (and meaningful) crafting!

Here are some projects to get you started!:

Knit Anyone, Any wear Scarf

Classic Cable Knit Scarf 

Mega Scarf