Carolyn Blashek


If you think one person can’t make a difference, just wait until you hear Carolyn Blashek’s story.

After 9/11, she was so outraged by what happened in New York — her hometown — that she marched into the nearest recruiting station and tried to join the military. The problem was that they wouldn’t take her, telling the 46-year-old that she was too old.

After striking out with several other recruiters, she started to look for other ways to help. Rather than giving up on her dream of making the world a better place, she started a living room-based organization that would quickly grow into the largest military support organization in U.S. history.

Operation Gratitude gathers supplies, letters and gifts from people across the country and sends them to our men and women serving overseas.

Carolyn says it was a movement waiting to happen, and she just happened to be the person lucky enough to shepherd it on.

She explains how the whole idea was born by a chance encounter with a soldier about to ship out for another tour of duty. She says he shared with her that he was on home on emergency leave to bury his mother, his wife had recently left him and their young child had died. He felt he had nothing to live for because no one at home cared anymore.

“But I cared, and I wanted him to know that I cared,” Carolyn tells Growing Bolder. “People in military are willing to die for guy to the right and left of them, but what are they willing to survive for?”

She says she knew that Americans cared about them and they’re service, and she just wanted to find a way to remind our troops of that.

Carolyn explains what kind of supplies they’re looking for and how anyone can help — for free!

Click here for much more information about Operation Gratitude.