As you have probably noticed, we here at the North Pole are on a mission to spread Christmas cheer. One of the ways we like to do that is by sharing about good deeds that people do. In a world where we’re inundated with heartbreaking news and unfathomable disasters, it’s refreshing to see acts of kindness, such as those done by Operation Gratitude, an organization on a mission to spread smiles to service members, military families, and veterans.
For most of us, the holiday season brings great joy and treasured time with loved ones, but for those in the armed forces, the holidays can often feel bittersweet when families are separated. So imagine the happiness and hope they would feel upon receiving handmade gifts and handwritten cards from complete strangers! These items (and many more) are what Operation Gratitude includes in the care packages they send out every year. Talk about spreading cheer—now that’s a cause we can get behind!
Read on to learn how you can get involved with Operation Gratitude.
Letters from adults and children are accepted all year, so even if you can’t send one this Christmas, you can plan on writing a letter or sending a card in the upcoming months. If you’re not sure how to start your letter or what to say, click here for helpful tips and prompts.
If you’re creatively inclined, then you’ll love the various ways you can say “Thanks!” with your unique talent. Handmade items such as paracord bracelets, cool ties, and scarves and hats are all extremely useful for deployed troops. In addition to being practical gifts, these handmade items are an expression of love and are deeply appreciated by the service members who receive them.
These bracelets aren’t merely decorative; they are a functional survival tool! Paracord bracelets made according to Operation Gratitude’s specifications will quickly release to a 7.5' string that is useful in various emergency situations. Such uses include making a shelter, creating a harness, or securing camouflage nets, just to name a few. It is imperative that you use only paracord labeled 550, as other types of cords or rope are not strong enough to be functional. To make sure you’re using the correct cord, you can buy Operation Gratitude’s paracord bracelet kit from Ebay. Download the paracord jig pattern here and watch the video to see how it’s made. (Are you a lefty? Check out this video with left-handed instructions.)
Cool ties help keep troops cool during the hot summer months. These handmade ties are filled with a special polymer that, when soaked in water, will provide a cooling sensation that lasts for several hours. For folks stationed in extreme heat, these ties provide a lot of relief! Click here for instructions on how to make cool ties as well as where to purchase the polymer.
In addition to paracord bracelets and cool ties, Operation Gratitude also places scarves, hats, drawstring bags, and bandanas in care packages. Naturally hats and scarves are great for troops during the cold months, but drawstring bags and bandanas can be used year round. Generally speaking, these items ought to be made with muted, gender-neutral colors such as blues, browns, grays, greens, maroon or black. When sending your handmade wares, include a short note to give the gift a personal touch. Ready to get started? Check out this page for patterns.
If none of the options above suit your fancy, you might be interested in some other ways to help this organization. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, you can apply to be a letter screener. If you have a talent for planning and organizing, consider hosting a collection drive for miscellaneous items such as batteries, toiletries, puzzle books, gum, and more. (See the complete list here.) Perhaps one of the easiest ways for both kids and adults to lend a hand is to run a “Cents for Service” fundraiser. All you need to do is ask folks to donate their loose coins! For more information including downloadable promotional materials, click here.
Perhaps by now you’re thinking that this organization is pretty great, but you want to help out in a different way. Well, you can make a tax-deductible donation by giving a check, giving in honor of a loved one, leaving a legacy gift, donating your vehicle, or donating your cell phone.