Mars, Incorporated, celebrated the delivery of Operation Gratitude’s 2,000,000th and 2,000,001st care packages on December 9 at the nonprofit’s Los Angeles facility. With a surprise announcement in front of thousands of people, two Marine Corps lance corporals who recently returned from an overseas deployment received the milestone care packages that included a pair of Super Bowl tickets and two VIP experience NASCAR tickets to the Charlotte 600, courtesy of Mars.
Operation Gratitude sends 250,000-plus individually addressed care packages annually to soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen deployed in harm’s way, to their children left behind and to first responders, veterans, new recruits, military families, wounded heroes and their caregivers. Each package contains snacks, hygiene products, entertainment and handmade items such as scarves, hats, and paracord survival bracelets, as well as personal letters of support. Mars has been a proud Operation Gratitude partner since 2014.
Mars has deep roots with the armed forces. Mars produced the first-ever M&M’S chocolate candies in 1941 in Newark, N.J., as a military ration during World War II, and the candy quickly became a favorite treat. As a result, Mars began producing and selling the product to consumers in 1947. Wrigley supported the troops as well throughout World War II, dedicating the entire output of Juicy Fruit and Doublemint gum for military rations. Mars has been involved in supporting the men and women of the U.S. military ever since. This includes hiring U.S. veterans, creating a Mars associate network group to support veterans and military families and partnering with Operation Gratitude.
“It’s a privilege to partner with Operation Gratitude and support our U.S. service members and first responders, along with the communities who care for them,” said Matt Montei, vice president of Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., in a press release “As an Air Force veteran, it’s a great feeling to know that we’re giving our troops a taste of home, and recognizing their ongoing sacrifice, commitment and dedication to serving us every day.”
Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. initiated the partnership with Operation Gratitude in 2014. Mars Associates have prepared more than 10,000 care kits for active duty personnel and first responders. Care kits prepared for military personnel by Mars to date contain more than 5,000 handmade paracord survival bracelets and tens of thousands of letters written by Mars associates. In honor of the 2,000,000th care package, Mars committed to donating $2,000,000 worth of Mars products by the end of 2018.
“As a Marine of 20 years, I know and have witnessed firsthand the impact that care packages and personal letters of support have on deployed service members,” said Operation Gratitude CEO, Kevin Schmiegel, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel. “Operation Gratitude not only uniquely touches the lives of our men and women in uniform, and their families, but also gives individuals from every walk of life a meaningful opportunity to connect with the military and first responder communities.”