Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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December 11, 2013

Non-profit marks one millionth care package

Operation Gratitude, the non-profit, volunteer-based Military and Veteran support organization celebrated its historic One Millionth Care Package when it rolled off the assembly line today to the cheers of thousands of volunteers, supporters, Military Brass, Elected Officials and Hollywood Celebrities. Adding to the excitement was the reveal of the special gift for the recipient of the milestone package: A Ford F-150 Pickup Truck donated by 5-hour ENERGY®.

Under a large tent adjacent to the California Army National Guard Armory, Event Emcees Fritz Coleman, Andy Chanley and Joe Garner welcomed active duty Service Members and Military Veterans throughout the day. Many of these men and women were past recipients of Operation Gratitude care packages, and wore specially designed pins saying “I Serve” or “I Served.” Three previous Operation Gratitude Milestone Package recipients were in attendance: Sgt. Shaun Gallagher (300,000th package); Sgt. Eric Rodriguez (750,000th package) and Sgt. Samuel Mancilla (800,000th package).

Six World War II Veterans were honored guests, including Lt. Colonel Bob Friend, a Tuskegee Airman, and Bea Cohen, the oldest living female World War II Veteran at 103 years old.

To the delight of their fans, Celebrities Leah Remini, Joe Mantegna, Stelio Savante, Bill Jones and cast members from the new TV show, Enlisted, joined the festivities, as did Dodger great Al “The Bull” Ferrara, and radio host and author, Michael Reagan.

Two Assembly Lines were in full swing, producing 3,000 care packages in just two hours. In addition, the activities included Military and First Responder Booths, fun games with prizes for young children, a letter writing area with custom printed holiday cards for the troops, a paracord bracelet workshop, and a photo booth.

Several gourmet food trucks were on site and thousands of attendees were served a complimentary lunch courtesy of several community organizations and local businesses. Adding a holiday touch, Santa Claus was on hand giving out gifts to all the children.

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