The unmistakable roar of jets launching and landing aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) reverberated through the signal shack while Sailors with smile-creased faces rummaged through boxes filled with snacks, letters and other luxuries.
These Sailors from TR’s Navigation department were just the latest recipients of care packages sent by a group of grateful strangers.
“I found out about the program while I was on my second deployment on the USS Enterprise (CVN 65),” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Meghan Carter. “A Sailor’s wife signed us all up and we all got unexpected care packages.”
This time it was Carter’s turn to make sure her shipmates received recognition for their service when she signed up for the appreciative parcels through the program Operation Gratitude.
“We got a little bit of everything in our packages; things like sunscreen, cold medicine, sewing kits, books, DVDs, toiletries, candy, and coffee,” said Carter. “Not to mention we all got letters from students around the country.”
Operation Gratitude, founded in 2003, is a non-profit organization that annually sends more than 100,000 care packages to America’s deployed forces around the world. Funded entirely by private donations and the volunteered time of grateful Americans, the program has mailed more than 1.2 million packages to service members since its inception.
“Mail day is a lot like Christmas morning when you’re on deployment,” said Carter. “People get antsy waiting when they know that the mail is coming. I thought it would be a good morale booster for everyone, since only five of the 22 people in our department have ever deployed.”
In return, the Sailor’s from Navigation department plan on putting together a few packages of their own filled with letters of gratitude and photos of themselves displaying what they received from Operation Gratitude.
“To show our appreciation for the care packages and the work that went into them, we are going to send the organization an American flag that we have flown while on deployment, not just from Navigation department, but from the whole ship as I’m sure that there are other people [on the ship] who received packages from Operation Gratitude,” said Carter.
Operation Gratitude sends packages not only to individuals, but to large groups as well.
“The organization sends packages twice per year and it is super easy to get enrolled,” said Carter. “All you have to do is go to their website and sign up.”
To sign up for the program visit Operation Gratitude’s website at www.operationgratitude.com.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Spears, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs
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