Operation Gift Cards in a program started as a joint venture between the Military Order of The Purple Heart Derby/Shelton Chapter 1 and the Disabled American Veterans Stamford Chapter 13, with the Derby/Shelton AMVETS (American Veterans) Post 43 sharing a leadership role. The all volunteer group has organized the delivery of over $1,013,015 in Post Exchange Service gift cards and corporate donations to the wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital in Bethesda, MD during 125 monthly/bimonthly visits during the past 10 years.
The program has 71 organizations who have become co-sponsors to the program by purchasing either $1,000 or $500.00 of post exchange gift cards (in $10.00 increments). In doing so, they have the opportunity to send one representative to hand deliver their donation to the wounded troops (at the representative’s own expense, which enables the organization to deliver 100% of their donation to the wounded troops). The 71 organizations have sent 289 representatives on the 2 day trip to deliver their exchange gift cards.
Smaller donations (of any amount) are collected until the amount reached $1,000, then a disabled American veteran or a wounded warrior from CT is sent to deliver the $1,000 in gift cards (which is therapeutic to the veteran).
The mission of Operation Gift Cards is make monthly visits to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital with 6 objectives:
1. To personally thank the Walter Reed patients for their service to their country and for their sacrifice for freedom.
2. To present all visited patients between 3 and 6 “Thank You” kits, each from a different organization, which collectively contain between $60.00 and $120.00 in post exchange gift cards.
3. To inform the patients about who to contact about the benefits available to them when they return to their home state.
4. To provide a means for veterans’ organizations and individuals to donate items from the “Wish List” of various support groups at Walter Reed like the Red Cross and the Fisher House.
5. To provide the opportunity for local wounded and disabled veterans to participate in a visit to Walter Reed as part of their healing process.
6. Operation Gift Cards also coordinates the participation of Walter Reed patients and alumni in local events like the Branford’s First Congregational Church’s Tale A Vet Fishing Program, the Stamford Yacht Club’s Hooks For Heroes Program, and Kathy Granfield’s Veteran Angler Charters.