Operation Gratitude

For some soldiers, a letter is the only contact they have with home. The UCLA Volunteer Center has set a goal of sending handwritten letters and care packages to military service members and veterans each year, in partnership with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization based in Chatsworth, CA. All five branches of the military are sent letters: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. You can help UCLA honor those who serve by writing a letter or organizing a group writing event. Operation Gratitude has sent over 600,000 care packages since 2003, and UCLA is the first large-scale university the organization has paired with to increase these efforts.

The purpose of an Operation Gratitude letter is to let members of the military know that their service is appreciated. You can help UCLA honor those who serve by writing a letter or organizing a group writing event. Operation Gratitude has sent over 600,000 care packages since 2003, and UCLA is the first large-scale university the organization has paired with to increase these efforts

Your letters make a difference. Read these testimonials:

“Your actions, and those of your students, demonstrate your commitment to supporting men and women who place themselves in harm’s way to safeguard the freedoms we all hold dear.”

—Mark McDonald, Major General, U.S. Army
(Read full letter)

“These expressions of love and concern from fellow citizens offer our Military a much-deserved respite from the hardships of service, and are always greeted with enthusiasm and great appreciation.”

—Carolyn Blashek, President, Operation Gratitude
(Read full letter)

Get Supplies and Coordinate Your Project


Individuals may pick up letter writing supplies at the Volunteer Center office located in the James West Alumni Center or you can use  your own paper or stationary  that can be downloaded here. Please drop off your letters to the UCLA Volunteer Ceneter or see below for the location of mailboxes around campus and tips on what to include in your letter.


1. If you are a campus group or department, you can use your own paper and pens, pick up stationary at mailbox locations, or download the stationary here. If your group is larger than 20 individuals, additional supplies can be requested by emailing volunteer@support.ucla.edu. As a group, you can get together to write letters and then drop them off at the Volunteer Center located in the James West Alumni Center or at Operation Gratitude mailboxes located around campus. Please see below for the location of campus mailboxes and tips on what to include in your letter.

2. Request a speaker for an on campus presentation by a staff member and a supplies package (stationary, pens, and sample letters) from the Volunteer Center by emailing volunteer@support.ucla.edu. Please include the number of volunteers participating and the date and time you plan to hold the letter writing project. Please make your request at least 10 days in advance if you would like to utilize this option.

Off Campus

If you are an individual or group not located on or near campus, you can also participate in this project. You can use your own stationary or you can download our version here. Please see below for tips on what to include in your letters. After you finish writing your letters,  please drop them off at the Volunteer Center located in the James West Alumni Center or mail them directly to us using the address below: Attn: UCLA Volunteer Center, James West Alumni Center Box 951397 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1397


View Operation Gratitude Drop-Off

Write a Letter to a Service Member

Your letter is a meaningful way to show support of military service members. Remember, your letter is intended to bring a smile to the reader. Keep your writing positive and respectful. The letters are intended to be supportive; please refrain from using references to politics, overly religious language, and mentioning death or killing.

Letter Writing Tips:

  • Start with a salutation, such as “Dear Service Member” or “Dear Hero”
  • Share your background family, pets, favorite sports or hobbies
  • Express your gratitude for the service members’ efforts
  • Keep the tone upbeat
  • Draw a picture if no words come to mind
Track and Share the Results


Total Number of Operation Gratitude Letters

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Please share this campaign with your friends and colleagues on social media: post on the Volunteer Center Facebook page about your experience writing an Operation Gratitude letter, or tweet @uclavolunteer your photos and letter excerpts.

Operation Gratitude Campus Honor Roll

Thank you to generous campus partners who have written letters and helped facilitate the process. With your support, we will meet our goal.

  • Alpha Chi Omega
  • Alpha Delta Pi
  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Alumni Affairs
  • Alumni Scholars Club
  • American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  • Association of Graduate Counselors and Advisors (AGCA)
  • Athletics
  • Beta Theta Pi
  • Blueprint Summer Programs
  • Bruin Belles
  • Bruin Corps
  • Bruin Resource Center
  • Channel Island Bruins
  • Club Taekwondo
  • Club Sports
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Delta Delta Delta
  • Delta Sigma Phi
  • Delta Tau Delta
  • Department of Military Science
  • External Affairs
  • First Year, Transfer & Continuing Student Programs
  • Fraternity & Sorority Relations
  • Government & Community Relations
  • Graduate Division
  • HR & Payroll Center – Administration
  • Kappa Alpha Theta
  • Kappa Delta
  • Men’s Tennis
  • Mortar Board
  • Office of Residential Life
  • Operation Mend
  • Pathway at UCLA Extension
  • Phi Delta Epsilon
  • Pre-Dental Student Outreach Program
  • Pi Kappa Alpha
  • Project SPELL
  • Psi Chi
  • Recreation & Campus Life
  • Recreation’s Student Leadership Employee Advisory Council
  • San Fernando Valley Bruin Alumni Network
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Special Events and Protocol
  • Staff Assembly
  • Student Alumni Association
  • The Writer’s Den
  • Theta Tau
  • Writing Programs
  • UCLA Foundation Board
  • Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC)
  • Veterans Resource Center
  • Women’s Club Lacrosse Team
  • Wushu
  • Zeta Beta Tau


Other Resources for Veterans

UCLA offers many on-campus supportive services for student veterans, state-of-the-art cosmetic and reconstructive surgery for warriors wounded during service overseas, and groundbreaking research revolutionizing the way the U.S. military does business. Learn more at UCLA Veterans: See What UCLA Is Doing For Veterans.

Related stories for Operation Gratitude
New Bruins, Chancellor Block show gratitude to U.S. troops during orientation
Taking a few minutes away from campus tours and all the other activities that are part of New Student Orientation, some 6,000 new Bruins are putting pen to paper this summer to thank U.S. troops for their service overseas, part of a massive volunteer effort introducing them to UCLA’s commitment –› read more
Posted on July 29, 2011  |   Source: UCLA Volunteer Center
Blocks, new Bruins thank U.S. troops for their service
Chancellor Gene Block and his wife, Carol, joined a group of incoming freshmen during New Student Orientation to write letters of thanks to U.S. troops in appreciation for their service. –› read more
Posted on July 28, 2011  |   Source: UCLA Today
New Bruins send care packages to U.S. troops overseas
When Keenan Jones wants to catch up with his stepfather, he tries to avoid video conferences. There’s a three-second delay in his stepfather’s Internet connection, and the video chat must be arranged months in advance. Jones’ stepfather is in the U.S. Army, doing military intelligence work in Afghanistan in his –› read more
Posted on September 2, 2010  |   Source: Daily Bruin
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