Operation Gratitude celebrates 20 years of thanks to military, first responders

Published: Aug. 19, 2023 at 6:04 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The nationwide nonprofit Operation Gratitude celebrates 20 years of saying thank you to military and first responder communities by packing 8,500 care packages in the Charleston area.

Around 100 volunteers geared up Saturday for their third event in Charleston. Out of the 8,500 care packages, 3,500 were specifically for female veterans.

The care packages contain snacks, personal care items and the most cherished items -- handmade with love gifts.

“Many times in the military and for the first responders, it sometimes seems like a thankless job,” Vicki Johnson, national director for volunteerism for Operation Gratitude, said. “But to be able to provide a care package for them, put together by people that they don’t know, probably by people they will never meet, with just some things, just reminders, that people do care.”

The volunteers hosted PortWatch Logistics warehouse in North Charleston for the weekend. Its owner, Bill Thomas, said he’s thankful they got involved.

“We are pretty consistent year in and year out doing something, and this was a great opportunity,” Thomas said. “We are busy at times. It caught us in a lull, so we had the space. We are already talking about doing it again.”

Johnson said it is part of Operation Gratitude’s mission to express appreciation for those who have served and allowed Americans to have the freedoms they enjoy.

“We have hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country and I believe that’s the reason why people want to give back,” Johnson said. “They want to show gratitude. And our organization provides that opportunity.”

Operation Gratitude said they hope to have the future space in the Charleston area to host events like this at least once a month.

For more information on how to get involved, visit the Operation Gratitude website.