Operation Gratitude and BJ's Wholesale Club Collect More Than 100,000 Letters for Troops during Military Appreciation Month

Tags: HeroStories

Van Nuys, CA. (June 17, 2010) - Operation Gratitude and BJ's Wholesale announced today that they collected 108,816 letters for deployed troops during May in honor of Military Appreciation Month. The letters will be included in Operation Gratitude Care Packages to be shipped to individual U.S. Service Members in 2010. BJ's Charitable Foundation will also donate $50,000 to the nonprofit to help defray the cost of shipping care packages.

"BJ's Wholesale Club is extremely proud of the tremendous response from our club members, team members and Operation Gratitude, who together collected more than 100,000 letters," said Laura Sen, President and CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club. "We are deeply pleased that so many U.S. Service Members will receive personal letters showing our sincere thanks and admiration."

General Manager Bill Sikora of the BJ's in Boynton Beach, FL, Operation Gratitude President and Founder Carolyn Blashek and Volunteer Anne Holland of Atlanta, Georgia add their own greetings to May's Military Appreciation Month Letter Writing Campaign.

BJ's challenged the communities in which it has clubs to write personal letters for deployed troops throughout May. BJ's Members, Team Members and local community organizations collected 71,031 letters and Operation Gratitude volunteers in Southern California contributed another 37,785. Letters were dropped in the Operation Gratitude mailbox at any BJ's Club, submitted online via BJ's Facebook page or mailed directly to the nonprofit. BJ's Charitable Foundation additionally pledged to donate $1 for every letter received, up to $50,000, for Operation Gratitude.

Sikora and Blashek wheel out the last collection of letters from May's Military Appreciation Month Letter Writing Campaign

"This is the largest collection of letters we have ever received at one time! Every Care Package that we send for the rest of the year will have at least two letters from the BJ's Letter Writing campaign," said Carolyn Blashek, Founder and President of Operation Gratitude. "We are grateful for the support from BJ's Wholesale Club, its local communities, their members and our volunteers. U.S. Service Members who receive our care packages tell me that they cherish personal letters and keep them close to their hearts - both in combat and when they return home. These personal letters will lift morale and put many smiles on the faces of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed in harm's way."

About Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude (www.OperationGratitude.com) is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions. Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 550,000 packages to American Military deployed overseas.

About BJ's Wholesale Club

BJ's is dedicated to providing members with high-quality, brand-name food and merchandise at prices that are significantly lower than supermarkets, supercenters, department stores, drug stores and specialty retail stores. BJ's carries the most product variety of any wholesale club with more than 7,000 items, including supermarket-sized staples, USDA Choice meats and stock-up items. BJ's is the only wholesale club to accept all manufacturers' coupons and for greater convenience, offers the most payment options including EBT.

Headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. is a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern United States. The Company currently operates 189 clubs and 105 gas stations in 15 eastern states. Learn more and shop online at BJs.com or for exclusive content visit Facebook.com/bjswholesaleclub and Twitter.com/bjswholesale.

About BJ's Charitable Foundation

BJ's Charitable Foundation was established with the mission to enrich every community BJ's Wholesale Clubs serve. The Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that primarily benefit the underprivileged in the area of basic needs (hunger prevention, self sufficiency, education and health). For more information about BJ's Charitable Foundation please visit, www.bjs.com/chari