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Make Paracord Bracelets for the Military with Operation Gratitude

Posted by Luke Quanbeck on Nov 7th 2023

Operation Gratitude giving back

What Is Operation Gratitude?

Imagine being stationed on the other side of the globe as a military service member and receiving a care package that contains things like:

  • Snack foods you haven't seen in months
  • Deodorant and other practical hygiene items
  • A paracord bracelet
  • A personal note telling you that you're appreciated.

All this from someone you've never met before.

This is what Operation Gratitude has been doing since 2003. They've sent well over 3 million care packages to active duty U.S. military members, first responders, veterans, and families.

Operation Gratitude care package numbers

What's in a Care Package?

When talking about what to put into the care packages, Kevin Schmiegel (Former CEO) reminds people that "Ultimately, a Care Package means more than the items themselves. The package itself reminds those men and women that we are thinking of them."

The contents of a care package might vary depending on who it is sent to. "We try to include certain items in every care package," Schmiegel says, "so those are really important—things like deodorant, energy drink mix, lip balm, and, indeed, paracord bracelets."

Beyond that, they like to include items like American snack foods and practical items like hand warmers to deployed soldiers. "We’re always grateful for handwritten cards," he adds, "because, as I said, they really mean a lot."

Operation Gratitude care package items

Photo credit: Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude was founded by and is currently run by people with strong personal connections to the military. This gives them first-hand knowledge of what kind of items are most appreciated. They've also received a ton of feedback from military members over the years, including many notes on specific items that have meant a lot to them. Read what they have to say.

How Can I Help?

At this point, many of you may be wondering how you can help. There are a couple of ways to get involved, including a special bracelet drive this summer.

  1. Get the Word Out: Tell people about Operation Gratitude. The more people that know about what they do, the more care packages they can send.
  2. Volunteer: Operation Gratitude would not exist if it weren't for its many volunteers. Here are some ways that you can give of your time:
    • Work at an assembly day. If you live in the Los Angeles area you can volunteer for a monthly care package assembly day at their headquarters.
    • Host a collection drive for care package items. Wherever you live, you can collect donations and ship them to Operation Gratitude to be included in care packages.
  3. Make Things: As a craft store, we know we have a ton of crafty people in our audience. Making handmade items is a great way to support our men and women that put themselves in harm's way to keep us safe. These kinds of gifts send the message that they are worth our time and effort. Here are some ideas of things to make.
    • Paracord Bracelets! Operation Gratitude sends a paracord bracelet in every care package sent. Keep reading for more information.
    • Scarves, hats, cool ties, etc.

For more information regarding ways to give and what to make, see the Express Thanks page on their website.

Operation Gratitude showing thanks

Word from a Soldier

Volunteers at Operation Gratitude get to witness firsthand the impact that their work has had on people's lives. Here's a note they got back from one care package recipient.

"First I would like to say thank you for the bracelets that you are making and giving to soldiers… I have worn mine every day since getting it four months ago, as it is green, brown, black, and tan and matches my uniform. Well, the other day we were having an issue getting an oil filter off of a generator, because we don’t have an oil filter wrench. I took the bracelet apart and used it to wrap around the oil filter and used a screwdriver almost like a tourniquet to tighten up the cord on the filter and I got the filter off. On the thank you card I got with the bracelet, it said Operation Gratitude would send another if I used it. I was wondering if I could get a few more for myself and some of my soldiers?"

Operation Gratitude did send him a new bracelet, by the way!

Have you donated to or volunteered with Operation Gratitude before? Tell us about your experience below. If you haven't consider participating in their upcoming bracelet drive or getting involved in another way to support our troops, first responders, and their families.

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