American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) and Sands Resorts Donate TWO HARLEY DAVIDSON SPORTSTERS

Operation Gratitude Sends TWIN Milestone 500,000th Packages

Van Nuys, CA - December 21, 2009 - With the classic roar of freedom catching their attention, more than 1500 Operation Gratitude volunteers witnessed the presentation of the organization's historic 500,000th Care Package, as a parade of motorcycles rode onto the Armory Drill floor delivering the keys to TWO Harley Davidson Sportsters.  The keys, along with several other unique gifts, were added to Operation Gratitude care packages, to be presented to two U.S. Service Members serving in the harshest combat zones overseas.

Co-founders Carolyn Blashek and SSG Elizabeth Cowie, who started the organization in 2003, thanked AVTT and Sands Resorts for their generous donation of the Sportsters, and recognized the tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters who have contributed throughout the years to the assembly and shipment of half a million care packages.

"The 500,000 care packages we have sent are an expression of our enormous respect and appreciation for those who voluntarily put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedom," exclaimed Blashek.  "How totally appropriate that today we are sending a classic American symbol of freedom--Harley Davidson Motorcycles--to two of our bravest warriors, both of whom have served multiple tours of combat duty."

"AVTT's mission is to honor, respect and remember those who served and thus those who are serving," said Don Allen, founder of AVTT, donor of one of the Bikes.  "The occasion of Operation Gratitude's 500,000th Care Package is a perfect opportunity to ensure that our message of support and gratitude is seen and heard by our Military around the world."

Lee Rawcliffe, President and CEO of Sands Resorts, and donor of the second Sportster noted:  "This exciting 500,000th package event represents a celebration of all the brave Americans who wear the uniform of our great nation.  We are honored to put 2 very special packages in the hands of two different service members who represent our courageous heroes-- past, present and future--from all branches of the Military."

In addition to the Sportsters, the twin 500,000th packages will include a year's supply of both 5 Hour Energy and Emergen-C. hand-made scarves, digital cameras from Target, t-shirts, hats, dvds and pins from the Shasta Salute to America Bike Rally, the usual items and personal letters provided by more than 250 Corporate Sponsors and Friends, and by tens of thousands of individual donors across the country.  Days of Our Lives Cast Members Jay Kenneth Johnson, Joseph Mascola and Taylor Spreitler presented a Certificate for two VIP Set Tours.

Special deliveries of the matching Half Millionth Packages are being arranged.

A 4th Grade student from North Carolina, the winner of the "Guess the Candy Weight and Letter Writing Contest,"  was announced, having guessed within a few pounds the total weight of candy donated to Operation Gratitude this Holiday Drive:  110,000 pounds.

Blashek and Cowie informed the energetic crowd that the 500,000th package represented:

~ 4 Million pounds of product
~ $5.5 Million of postage
~ 25 Million individual items
~ $50 Million worth of product

sent to the troops through Operation Gratitude since its inception in 2003.

With the shipment of its 500,000th package, Operation Gratitude wrapped up its 2009 Holiday Drive, having delivered more than 100,000 care packages to U.S. Service Members this year.

About Operation Gratitude:

Operation Gratitude ( ) is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, volunteer organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions.  Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to all Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$100 and costs the organization $11 to assemble and ship.

About American Veterans Traveling Tribute ("AVTT"):

AVTT ( is a veteran-owned project that travels the USA to provide a forum for communities to HONOR-RESPECT-REMEMBER all who have sacrificed their lives for our country's freedom. In so doing, AVTT also honors all Veterans and those currently serving, by letting them know they will never be forgotten. AVTT is funded through sponsorship fees, donations, and sale of merchandise at events. Donations to support AVTT's mission are qualified charitable tax deductions through The Traveling Wall Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.

About Sands Resorts

Sands Resorts ( has been the leading provider of Myrtle Beach vacations for over 35 years. Established in 1972, Sands now includes seven major oceanfront resorts, restaurants, a water park,  the nationally known beach bar Ocean Annie's, and vacations featuring golf and theater packages, children's programs, and convention accommodations. Sands Resorts new "Hall of Heroes," honoring our military, police and firefighters who throughout history have protected our freedom, is open free of charge, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first floor of The Rawcliffe Center at Ocean Dunes/Sand Dunes Resort & Villas.

Operation Gratitude
Carolyn Blashek
818.789.0123; cell: 310.876.2594



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