Battalion Buddy Program Reaches Milestone: 20,000 Brave Young Warriors Receive Surprise Hugs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Gratitude   
Friday, 22 July 2011 22:27

July 20, 2011 / Encino, CA - In just two months since the program's launch, Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddy Packages have brought smiles and hugs to 20,000 anxious sons and daughters of deploying U.S. military personnel.

In May, Operation Gratitude started sending special stuffed toys -- known as "Battalion Buddies" -- to the children of U.S. service members as their units prepare to deploy into harm'Battalion Buddy Toyss way. Each Battalion Buddy wears a tag saying: "Hi Brave Young Warrior! I am your Battalion Buddy. I am here to cuddle with you while your Mommy or Daddy is away."

Operation Gratitude's initial Battalion Buddy efforts were made possible by the McKesson Corporation, which provided a generous donation of thousands of the toys. The program has continued with the cooperation and support of Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders nationwide. To date 20,000 packages have been shipped to 32 unique Zip Codes in 17 States plus Guam and Germany, and to 56 different deployed or deploying units.

"Battalion Buddies offer comfort and encouragement during a difficult time of separation," said Operation Gratitude founder, Carolyn Blashek. "We are excited that the momentum for this program is building and that more friends across the country are joining our efforts to support military children."

Blashek says the response from families receiving the Battalion Buddy packages has been overwhelming.Boy with his Battalion BuddyShe shared an email one deployed father recently sent from Afghanistan: "Thank you for what your organization does and the positive impact you have on the lives of military service members and their families," he wrote. "You bent over backwards to help us receive several hundred Battalion Buddies for our deploying unit and I for one was very grateful as my son and daughter absolutely loved them. According to my wife, they have kept them close every night as they go to sleep."

Along with the McKesson Corporation, Tobu Print Group, Inc., Frontline Freight and Reddaway Trucking have generously provided services to assist with the production and shipment of Battalion Buddy packages.

As with its Care Packages to deployed troops, Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddy Program will provide American companies and every citizen opportunities to encourage the children of troops serving in combat by donating stuffed toys and contributing funds.

Those wishing to donate new stuffed toys (14-18 inches from head to toe) to be used as Battalion Buddies may send them to the following address:

Operation Gratitude
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Battalion Buddy Program

Financial donations can be made online here: Donate to Battalion Buddies or by check made payable and addressed to:

Operation Gratitude
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436

Corporate Donors should contact Blashek at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it regarding sponsorship opportunities. Family Readiness Officers and battalion leaders wishing to request Battalion Buddy packages should send an email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

About Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in harm's way, to their children left behind, and to Wounded Warriors in Military hospitals and Transition Units. The organization's mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces and their families 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. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 660,000 packages to American Military members. 

Learn more about Operation Gratitude by visiting:

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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