By Ryan Pfleiderer

15,000 volunteers spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day lending a
helping hand to American troops overseas.

The Robert F. Kennedy
Memorial Stadium held the event which was organized by Operation
Gratitude, a nonprofit based in California.

In 2003, the
founder of the organization, Carolyn Blashek, said that she came up
with the idea after talking with a soldier serving in Iraq. She wanted
to show that Americans appreciate the military’s hard work, and
immediately a few dozen care packages turned into a few thousand.

Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama filled a care package
consisting of shampoo, gum, energy drinks, and other items. Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi brought her grandchildren and spent time
helping fill zip-lock bags with grooming supplies.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Connecticut Senator Chris
Dodd agreed that this service project is extremely important because
troops need to know that they have Americans’ support. Senator Dodd’s
wife and two children wrote letters to servicemen and women serving in
Iraq. Senator Dodd is a former member of the Peace Corps and the U.S.
Army. He said that he chose to attend this event because of the
military’s dedication to protecting America.

The department store Target helped supply the products being
packaged, and hundreds of its volunteers helped load up shipping
crates. The goal was to fill 100,000 care packages to break their
record of 75,000 care packages. Blashek was excited to see so many
volunteers, and she hopes that people continue to donate their time to
support fellow Americans.