How to Donate Comic Books to Troops Serving Overseas with Operation Gratitude
Mark Sable is the writer of Image Comics' Graveyard of Empires, a critically acclaimed title that deals explicitly with U.S. troops (and zombies) on the ground in Afghanistan. He's become a dedicated advocate for our men and women in uniform, and published on his blog today this excellent guide to donating comic books to troops serving overseas, and what doing so has meant to him personally. We're reposting it here with the author's permission.
By Mark Sable
It's not just 11-11-11, it's Veteran's Day. Graveyard of Empires' research and reception afforded me to interact with a many veterans, and as a result the day has added meaning for me. Spend any time with someone that's served, hear the stories of what they and their loved ones have sacrificed and you can't help but want to do something. I did You can too, and it doesn't have to cost you anything.
If you're like me, you've probably amassed a huge collection of comic books. You may not have room for them, and it's unlikely you're going to re-read most of them. The secondary market for comics has collapsed to the point where you not only can't make money by selling old books, you can't even get most comic stores to take them off your hands for free. But there are men and women who could use the diversion that comics provide. War has been described as "long periods of boredom punctuated by punctuated by moments of sheer terror." There's not much you can do about the sheer terror short of enlisting, but there is something you can do to help alleviate the boredom.
Donate your comics to Operation Gratitude.Here's how they describe what they do:
Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000 care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions, to their children left behind and to Wounded Warriors recuperating in Transition Units. Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than 660,000 packages to American Military deployed overseas.
I've driven hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books, DVDs and videogames over to their HQ and the Van Nuys, CA National Guard Armory. I'm not saying that to brag, but rather to give you an idea how easy it is.
My poorly taken photo doesn't convey the massive volunteer operation they have going, but I felt uncomfortable taking pictures at a military installation, even with permission.
But everything you see here, and more, gets sent directly overseas to the troops:
You don't need to drive to Van Nuys, you can mail your comics there. They don't need to be comics. You can donate candy, cellphones, cars, even cash (here's a more complete list of things you can do, including volunteering your time). But do something.
Trust me... I'm lazy, self-involved and practically a shut-in, and I did.