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Volunteers Gear Up for ‘Day of Service for Military’

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2009 – Operation Gratitude, a troop-support group, is joining forces with Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and thousands of volunteers from across the country on Jan. 19’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to assemble care kits for servicemembers deployed overseas.

The effort, called "A Day of Service for Our Military," allows for people to show their support and express their appreciation to those in the military, organizers said.

“We are thrilled to partner in this event, as this is a great way to introduce more Americans to the great work of Operation Gratitude and provide an avenue for them to express their appreciation to our military,” Carolyn Blashek, Operation Gratitude’s founder, said.

“A Day of Service for Our Military” is part of a larger initiative called “Renew America Together,” a nationwide effort that encourages Americans to make an ongoing commitment to serve their communities and their country through volunteering, not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but throughout the year.

Thousands of events are expected to take place across the country, organizers said.

Blashek said she expects about 15,000 volunteers will gather in a heated tent at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in the nation’s capital to assemble 75,000 care kits for servicemembers. Care kit items, donated by Target, include candy, shaving supplies, lotion, shampoo, CDs, DVDs, socks and books.

Writing letters of thanks to servicemembers also will be encouraged, Blashek said.

Organizers urge potential volunteers to sign up at http://www.usaservice.org/page/s/operationservice for a one-hour shift between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to assemble care kits.

“This is a wonderful event to be a part of,” Blashek said. “[It’s] day of service for our servicemembers, who continue to serve this country with honor.”

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