While there’s no doubt this country is proud of the troops that fight our freedoms every day, we don’t always show that appreciation well. That’s mostly because other than celebrations on major holidays, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day, we don’t really know the right way to show our appreciation.
That’s where organizations like Operation Troop Appreciation (OTA) come in.
Founded in 2004 on the principals of building and sustaining the morale and wellbeing of the military community, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based OTA helps the American public support and appreciate the selfless service and daily sacrifices of the members of our armed forces.
“Operation Troop Appreciation is dedicated to the active and veteran members of our Armed Forces who serve and sacrifice for our country,” the organization’s website says. “By providing them with items that contribute to their morale and wellbeing, we present a united front to our deployed military by supporting them as individuals, for every one of them.”
OTA works with military units, from squads to companies to battalions, to provide “wish-list” items to troops in the field that are intended to supplement items provided by the government. These items are intended to help ease the burden of deployment.
Items shipped to soldier include clothing, electronics, DVDs, CDs, phone cards, personal care items, snack and much more. Care package masters are selected to hand out items democratically. In addition, OTA sends letters to the units expressing gratitude for their service and a community of volunteers continues to correspond with soldiers who write back.
“Most support nonprofits only send boxes of goodies, but this organization sent items we requested,” says an anonymous review of the organization on greatnonprofits.org. “Because of their amazing support and going way above and beyond, my unit deemed me the care package master because it wasn’t the normal food items. They sent a bunch of cool gear we requested.”
Another review of the organization says, “I am a First Sergeant for a large unit here in Afghanistan. I reached out to these great folks through the internet because I wanted to provide my unit goodies that can appreciate while deployed. They sent out great boxes of things to include Little Debbie Snack cakes, popcorn, candy, beef jerkey and other great items the folks enjoyed.”
The organization even helps veterans by providing food, furniture, clothing and other necessities to struggling veterans. Last year, the organization fully furnished six apartment units that were built for homeless veterans.
For more information on Operation Troop Appreciation or to donate, visit their website at www.operationtroopappreciation.com.