Reader writes

Need to know

This letter is long overdue, and I think the residents of Blount County need to know what Operation Grateful Heart does and how they are good stewards of the donations they receive.

Operation Grateful Heart was formed at the end of 2004 when our local National Guard was deployed. Our mission statement was, “To help any deployed military from Blount County and their families.” ( To date, we are the only such group in the state of Alabama.)

Holding to that mission statement, Grateful Heart has provided the following to military families over the years: food, utilities, car tires, eyeglasses, prescriptions, rent, car insurance, truck and car repairs, housing and furniture, loans, and payment of taxes.

We also provided the National Guard with Christmas items, a Family Day in 2006, and a dinner in 2009. To date Operation Grateful Heart has paid for the shipment of 393 boxes to those deployed.

Every November we are responsible for handling the Veterans Day Parade and are grateful for the cooperation we receive from the local government, Chamber of Commerce, Blount County businesses, the Agri-Business Center, and the Oneonta Police Department. For the past four years, the night before the parade, a free dinner is provided to the county’s veterans and their spouses along with the help of the public.

Operation Grateful Heart does not receive any money from the state or grants. The funds provided for all of the above total $30,188 and have been raised by yard sales, raffles, collecting in front of Walmart, the business community, and by the generous donations of patriotic citizens of Blount County.

We pray for the day when ALL of our troops will be home safe and sound, and then perhaps someone will say, “Well done, Operation Grateful Heart.”

Lester Hallman

President, Operation Grateful Heart