Starbucks and Operation Gratitude partner to support front-line responders

After Starbucks recently announced a partnership with Operation Gratitude – to help the Los Angeles-based nonprofit deliver hand-written letters and care packages to front-line responders all over the world – Starbucks partner Jesse Archambault went home and told his family.

One person who got really excited? His 11-year-old daughter, Sutton.

The 6th grader wanted to help and went to work writing her own letter featuring words of encouragement (“I would like to say, thank you very much for serving our country”) and also a few jokes (“Why do we tell actors to break a leg? Because every play has to have a cast!”). She finished off her letter with a sticker of a cat wearing sunglasses.

“I wanted to write something that would bring a little bit of joy to people who protect our country,” she said.

Sutton’s letter was part of the 2,000 pounds of care packages containing other notes of thanks, snacks, comfort items and Starbucks coffee that eventually ended up in the hands of sailors aboard a naval ship.

With a $250,000 donation from The Starbucks Foundation to support U.S. front-line COVID-19 responders, Operation Gratitude will deliver up to 50,000 care packages to first responders, health care workers and military personnel. In addition, Starbucks partners throughout the U.S. have been involved in Operation Gratitude’s online letter-writing campaign.

In the last month, Operation Gratitude has donated and delivered more than 2 million items to areas around the world hit hard by COVID-19, including Guam, New York City, New Orleans and Seattle. This week, they partnered with Starbucks to deliver care packages to those stationed in Daegu, South Korea, one of the areas outside China to be affected by COVID-19 in February.

“As we have all seen recently, the world can turn upside down in a matter of days,” said retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Schmiegel, chief executive officer of Operation Gratitude. “One thing that we can always count on during a crisis is our military and first responders on the front lines. They need our help.

“Seventeen years ago, our founder sent the first four care packages to soldiers on the day the Invasion of Iraq started. Our homeland is under attack again – this time by an invisible enemy – and there are different warriors on the front lines front lines,” Schmiegel said. “It’s fitting during Military Appreciation Month for our organization, which is led by veterans and military spouses, to pay it forward. And I imagine the medical personnel and first responders who will be reading our thank you letters will appreciate it, too.”

Operation Gratitude recently received a “thank you” back, from a sailor expressing what the letters mean to those who receive them. It closed, “talking to my brothers and sisters in the military I know these letters motivate us to keep working hard for the stars and stripes and for everyone back home. Thank you for the support and God bless you all!”

To learn more about participating in Operation Gratitude’s letter writing campaign or conduct a letter writing drive, click here.

-- Michael Ko