Monday, June 4, 2007

U.S. Marine Returns from Iraq to Receive New Car

By Carolyn Blashek
Jun 1, 2007 - 4:35:37 PM
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Operation Gratitude and Checkers®/Rally's® proudly present this American Hero with a new Dodge Caliber

Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Richards of St. Louis (right center) received a new car from Rally's® on May 30. Rally's donated the car as part of the contents of Operation Gratitude's 200,000th care package, which Lance Corporal Richards received when stationed at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.
Blackanthem Military News, Van Nuys, CA -- Operation Gratitude and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc., presented 20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jordan Richards with the keys to a new Dodge® Caliber yesterday, May 30th, 2007. A St. Louis, MO, resident, Lance Cpl. Richards received his new car at the Rally's restaurant located at 9651 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis.

Rally's donated the Dodge Caliber as part of the contents of Operation Gratitude's milestone 200,000th care package sent during its Holiday Drive last December. Lance Cpl. Richards received the lucky care package on December 29th, 2006 while stationed at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. Upon opening the package, he discovered a postcard from Checkers/Rally's saying, "This Dodge Caliber is yours!" when you return home.

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

"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," said Terri Snyder, Chief Marketing Officer at Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. "We thank Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan Richards for his service to our country and hope that he and his fiancé enjoy their new car."

Redeployed to the U.S. earlier this month, Lance Cpl. Richards received his new Dodge Caliber yesterday during a special presentation at the St. Louis Rally's restaurant. In addition to the new car, Rally's franchisee, Altes LLC/Setla LLC, presented Lance Cpl. Richards with a certificate for free food for one year.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, members of Operation Gratitude's 3500+ Volunteer Corps commenced its 4th Annual Patriotic Drive to assemble and ship at least 50,000 Patriotic Care Packages to U.S. service members deployed overseas. The packages are filled with Flash Drives, Phone Cards, DVDs and CDs, Mr. Potato Heads, Beanie Babies, Candy, Gum, Cough Drops, Girl Scout Cookies, Bandana Cool-Ties, Skin Care Products, Coffee, Greeting Cards, Batteries, Energy Drinks, T-Shirts, Socks, assorted Snacks and the inaugural issue of the Operation Gratitude Magazine. Over 18,000 packages were assembled in the two days.

Additonal Packing Events will take place at the Operation Gratitude headquarters in Van Nuys, CA (17330 Victory Blvd) on the following dates:

June 2 and June 3
June 16 and June 17
June 30 and July 1

All products for the packages have been donated by individuals, organizations, schools, community groups, businesses and more than five dozen Corporate Sponsors (companies that have donated 10,000 items or more). Overall expenses of ~$10-15/package are covered by tax deductible financial donations from citizens across the country.

About Operation Gratitude :

Operation Gratitude ( ) is the California- based 501 (c) (3) non-profit, all-volunteer organization that sends care packages of snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and on military ships at sea. Its mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and to express to all troops the appreciation and support of the American people. For safety and security, all assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in March, 2003, Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 225,000 packages to American troops deployed overseas.

Operation Gratitude is now featured on the popular video site, YouTube. To view this short, informative video, check out Operation Gratitude Video



Lcpl Jordan Richards and fiance, Ashley, with their new car received from Operation Gratitude and Checkers/Rally's on May 30, 2007 in St. Louis, MO

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