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Operation Gratitude Newsletter April 2011

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Reminder:
2011 Patriotic Drive Kick-Off
    Saturday, April 30!     

Hi Volunteers!

Spring is here...and that means it is time to assemble at least 50,000 care packages for the troops during our annual Patriotic Drive!  We need YOUR help!  

The current schedule is posted below and on our website. Please join us as often as you can.  Volunteers ages 12 and up are welcome at the armory. We have tasks for everyone!

Patriotic Drive Schedule: March 1 --- June 30, 2011 
Volunteer Activities:
WEEKDAYS:   
Monday and Friday 9am--4pmSmiles with Pkgs
Tues, Wed, Thurs. 12pm--4pm
**CLOSED:
    Friday, April 22
    Monday, May 30

WEEKENDS: 9am to 4pm daily unless noted 
Sat. April 30:     ASSEMBLY 
Sat. May 14:      ASSEMBLY
Sat. May 21:      PREP 9-Noon
Sat. May 28:      ASSEMBLY
Sun. June 5:      ASSEMBLY 
Sat. June 18:     ASSEMBLY
Sat. June 25:     ASSEMBLY or YARD SALE if needed

Always check emails, Twitter and our website for schedule change notifications.

Be sure to keep current with all our activities by "Liking" us on Facebook, "Following" us on Twitter, and subscribing to our Operation Gratitude Blog

The full list of Basic Volunteer Information and armory address are included at the bottom of this email.  

More Ways to Help Right Now....

Cool-Ties, Beanie Babies & Personal Letters ~ Sew, Collect, Write & Donate 

These, along with financial donations, are our biggest needs for this Patriotic Drive.

But what is a cool-tie is and how do you make one?
Click here for more details: Keeping the Troops Cool with Cool-Ties!

           cooltiespec    BeanieBabies_2010     Donate Eagle

Remember: Every tax-deductible donation of $15 enables us to send another care package filled with more than $100 worth of donated products and personal letters of appreciation to a warrior in harm's way.

Please help us send 50,000 care packages during the 2011 Patriotic Drive--each package is personally addressed to an individual Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine deployed in such places as Afghanistan, Iraq, and on Naval ships throughout international waters. 

To donate now, click here: SEND A CARE PACKAGE

Year-Round Activities...

1.Shop till you Drop ~ Generous Vendors Give Back
Mother's Day is around the corner: May 8!  Check out the  many creative ways you can show Mom your love and support our Troops at the same time by visiting our Great Ideas Page.  Be sure to check it regularly--we update it often with new offers.

2. Donate your old vehicle ~ It's a Win-Win all around  

CarsForUSTroops makes it easy to donate your vehicle: They do all the paperwork to pick up the vehicle and transfer title.  You receive a tax deductible receipt and Operation Gratitude receives proceeds from the sale of your car, boat or motorhome!  Fill out the form online or call 7 days a week toll free: 1-800-333-0606.    
 *Please note that donated vehicles are sold to raise money for Operation Gratitude's care package activities; we do not provide these vehicles to active duty Military or Veterans. 

 3. Recycle... Recycle... Recycle! ~ Good for the planet, GREAT for the troops!
GRC
GRC Wireless Recycling will pay Operation Gratitude up to $30 per cell phone, PDA or laptop, and pre-pay the shipping expenses.
GRC will even organize a Recycling Campaign for your community, with beautiful and professional promotional materials.
For more information, please click here: Wireless Recycling or call: 877-744-3601.
GRC will also recycle Ink-Jet cartridges.
4. Ralph's Rewards~ Have a Ralph's Supermarket Rewards Card?
Ralph'sRewardRegister Operation Gratitude as your Community Contribution Program and earn money  for the troops every time you shop. You can register online here.
~ Click on Sign In or Create an Account for a new account
~ Click on My Account and use your email address and password to proceed to the next step.
~ Click on Edit Community Contribution information and input 92080, or click search, select Operation Gratitude and save changes.
~ Remember - once you've registered Operation Gratitude on your Ralph's Account, we will earn points redeemable for cash each time you swipe your registered Ralph's Reward card or enter your phone number at check-out.  As of last year, on September 1, 2010, everyone needed to renew their Community Contribution information! Please check your account to make sure it's still current.
~ Not a Ralph's Reward Card member? They are available at the customer service desk at any Ralph's Supermarket.

2011 Merrell Down & Dirty for the Troops: 
Mud Run 2011
The Merrell National Down & Dirty Mud Run Presented by Subaru began the 2011 series in Lake Castaic this past Saturday and Sunday with the first ever night-run.  Check out these pictures for some familiar faces: Down & Dirty in LA!

While browsing those great pictures, click the "Like" button if you are new to the page so you will receive in your own "News Feed" all the photos and troop letters we post on our Facebook page!

From here, Down & Dirty criss-crosses the country with stops in seven additional cities before circling back to the West Coast for the Final Run in Sacramento, CA on Sunday October 30th!

 Please visit: Merrell Down & Dirty for the full schedule of events and details! 

BASIC VOLUNTEER RULES AND INFORMATION:
We greatly appreciate your volunteer efforts and spirit!  To ensure your own safety and enjoyment, and to preserve our welcome at the Armory, we ask that you read and follow these requirements:
1. Parking will be in the parking lot around the building and on the dirt lot adjacent to the building. Please follow the directions of the Soldier-Guard at the Gate. No vehicles are allowed in the motor pool area (where the Military vehicles and our supplies are located). There are no exceptions, even for dropping off or moving donations.

2. Speed limit on base is 10 miles per hour. In congested areas, the limit is as slow as safety permits--even if that means a complete stop for an extended time.

3. Inside the Armory, volunteers are ONLY allowed on the Drill Floor; please do not go into Military offices or upstairs.

4. Food and Drinks:  
~Please bring your own on Prep Days. As volunteers may not use the Armory Kitchen or refrigerator at any time, consider bringing a small cooler.
~We will provide lunch on Assembly Days only.
~Marsha Roseman, our Catering Director, and a few volunteers wearing special food prep badges are the only people allowed in the Kitchen at any time.
~NO FOOD OR DRINKS ON DRILL FLOOR AT ANY TIME PLEASE!

 5. Clothing, Shoes, Purses, etc.
~Please wear closed-toe shoes
~Wear comfortable clothing; please avoid political statements on clothing..
~Please lock purse or other valuables in your car: We do not have a safe place for them and will not accept responsibility for personal property.

6. SIGN-IN 
~All volunteers must sign in at the Volunteer Table by the front door and fill out a new Release form for the current Drive--even if you have volunteered in the past.
~Please wear a name tag at all times.
~To receive Community Service Credit, you MUST sign-in and sign-out at the COMMUNITY SERVICE TABLE--this is separate from the Volunteer Sign In Table.

7. Donation Drop-Off: During Volunteer Hours Only ~Please drive to the Northwest Corner of the parking lot to drop off donations: Follow the posted signs.
~Fill out the donation log-in sheet and receive an acknowledgment.

8. Register to Volunteer: We Encourage You to Sign Up in Advance!
If you have not already done so, please sign up to work on the Assembly days by emailing OpGratVolunteer@yahoo.com; write "Operation Gratitude" in the subject line. State day(s), shift(s), number of volunteers and email addresses. Shifts are 9am-12; and 1pm-4pm.

9. TWITTER and Website Announcements:
Please always check our Twitter account: www.twitter.com/OpGratitude and/or our website: www.OperationGratitude.com and/or your emails for last minute schedule changes or closures prior to leaving for the armory.

10. Questions:
~At the Armory:
  Supervisors will be wearing Royal Blue T-shirts--please follow their instructions. 
  Rich Hernandez and Charlie Othold, Co-Directors of Operations, have the final say on all matters.
~By Email: OpGratVolunteer@yahoo.com (write "Operation Gratitude" in subject line)
~InfoLine: 818-909-0039

11. Location:
California Army National Guard Armory
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Corner of Victory and Louise

Thank you for your never-ending dedication to our brave men and women in uniform. Together we will put smiles on the faces of thousands of our heroes still in combat this year.

Love,

p.s. Don't forget to "Like" us on Facebook; "Follow" us on Twitter and "Subscribe" to our Blog!