Joan Glanz Rimmon of Los Angeles will be the guest on the April 21st edition of the BlogTalkRadio show YourMilitaryLife.com. She will be discussing the volunteer project Operation Gratitude and its Jewish offshoot Project MOT. Here’s Joan’s description of the two groups:
Operation Gratitude was begun in March of 2003 just two weeks before the first shots were fired in Iraq. Carolyn Blashek, a Jewish attorney who tried to join the U.S. Army after 9/11 and a volunteer at the local USO, met a soldier at LAX who was returning to the war zone.
He told her he had been on emergency leave to bury his mother and that his wife had left him and his only child had died as an infant. He had no one in his life. Then he said: “I’m going back over there. I don’t think I’ll make it back this time, but it really doesn’t matter because no one would even care.” Carolyn cared and Operation Gratitude was born that night.
Starting in her living room, we now are bursting at the seams at the California Army National Guard Armory in Van Nuys.
Since its beginning Operation Gratitude has shipped over 400,000 care packages to our military of all races, creeds and colors deployed in any hostile region in the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Israel (guarding the American Embassy), and on ships at sea.
Last January (2008) when our 300,000th package was ready to deliver, Carolyn and our operations manager, Charlie Othold, were invited to come to Iraq to present that package directly to the recipient. While there Carolyn met several of the chaplains, and the rest is Project MOT history (see below).
I became involved in May of 2004 in Operation Gratitude and am a supervisor in charge of sending blank greeting cards and stationery for the military personnel to use to send home and to friends.
Carolyn contacted Marsha Roseman and me to see if we wanted to do something for our Jewish servicemen and women. Operation Gratitude has many Jewish volunteers, and we got together with about 10 of them to start our work.
Our first packages were sent last Passover (2008) for about nine personnel. We worked mainly through the chaplains who told us how many packages would be needed for their particular units.
By Rosh Hashanah we were up to 27 packages and at Hanukkah we sent 44 boxes. This Passover we will be shipping over 100 boxes. We seem to be growing in leaps and bounds.
We have based on packages on our experience with Operation Gratitude, whose boxes are the favorite among the troops because we include many items that the troops really appreciate (not just food, although that is included as well). For instance, Craig Taubman has donated his CDs of Jewish music; AlephJudaica donated greeting cards for the troops to send home and some lovely leather kipot; various kosher markets around Los Angeles have given us canned goods and candies; and our small group of Operation Gratitude volunteers puts up the money to mail the packages.
Our main goal is to get donations of items that the Jewish soldiers would like to have during a specific holiday period. We are next getting ready for the High Holiday packages with lots of shanah tovah cards and will be getting some jars of honey. Donations for mailing the packages are also welcome.
Both Project MOT and Operation Gratitude are programs that will make the lives of our brave heroes in harms’ way more pleasant.
Mailing address for Project MOT: 13432 Tiara Street, Van Nuys, CA 91401; and mailing address for Operation Gratitude: 16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA 91436.