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America Supports You: Marine Receives Belated Christmas Gift

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2007 – While stationed at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, over Christmas 2006, Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards received a special care package with an extraordinary gift to be claimed upon his return to the states.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards, center-right, of St. Louis, got the keys to his new Dodge Caliber at a Rally’s drive-in restaurant in his hometown May 30. The Checkers/Rally’s fast-food chain donated the car, which was part of an Operation Gratitude care package Richards received while stationed in Iraq over Christmas 2006. Carolyn Blashek (second from left), founder of Operation Gratitude, is joined by a Checkers/Rally’s representatives for the presentation. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Troop-support group Operation Gratitude sent the care package.

Richards claimed that gift, a new Dodge Caliber, on May 30. Checkers/Rally’s restaurants donated the car and presented the Marine with the keys at one of the food chain’s St. Louis stores.

“We are honored to recognize one of America’s true heroes through our partnership with Operation Gratitude. This new car is one small way Checkers and Rally’s can continue to show our appreciation to the troops,” Terri Snyder, chief marketing officer for Checkers Drive-in Restaurants, said. “We thank Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Richards for his service to our country and hope that he and his fiancee enjoy their new car.”

Operation Gratitude is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad. Checkers/Rally’s is a corporate supporter of the program.

Richards’ special care package marked a significant milestone for Operation Gratitude since the group’s beginning in March 2003, and the group wanted to make it truly exceptional.

“When we reached our 200,000th care package mark, we wanted to do something very special to commemorate the milestone,” Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude’s founder, said. “We were overwhelmed and thrilled when Checkers/Rally’s said they would donate a new car!

“We are so thankful for Checkers/Rally’s support and feel privileged to be able to give this brave Marine such a wonderful welcome home gift,” she added.

In addition to a post card from Checkers Drive-in Restaurants proclaiming “This Dodge Caliber is yours!” the package included, among other things, a DVD player and celebrity-autographed hats to tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.

Operation Gratitude hasn’t slowed its mission since sending Richards’ package as part of December’s holiday care-package drive. In fact, the group kicked off its 4th Annual Patriotic Drive over Memorial Day weekend. Officials also anticipate that this drive, which is expected to produce 50,000 care packages for troops overseas, also will produce a new milestone: care package 250,000.

Blashek added that she is still accepting names of deployed servicemembers for the current drive. For more information on how to get an Operation Gratitude care package to a deployed servicemember or an entire unit this July 4th holiday, contact the group at opgrat@aol.com.

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Related Sites:
Operation Gratitude
America Supports You

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