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Spc. Alfonso Sanchez smiles as he holds up the keys to a new Jeep Patriot.

Spc. Alfonso Sanchez smiles as he holds up the keys to a new Jeep Patriot. (Courtesy of U.S. Army)

A military policeman in Iraq recently received a care package. It was not just any care package, though — it was the 250,000th sent by an organization called Operation Gratitude, and it included the keys to a new Jeep Patriot.

Spc. Alfonso Sanchez of the 16th Military Police Brigade was given the package during a formation at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad earlier this week.

The vehicle had been donated by the Tri-State Jeep Dealers' Association. During a ceremony at a New York Mets game in July, a set of keys was placed into the package, which was sealed and taken to a military post office at Newark Airport. The Mets also had a collection drive for care package items, and TV Station CW11 is hosting a letter writing sweepstakes, the winner of which will also receive a Jeep Patriot from the auto dealers' group.

It was unclear Friday how Sanchez was chosen to receive the package.

Operation Gratitude was founded by Carolyn Blashek of Encino, Calif., shortly after the Iraq war broke out.

“All contents for the packages are donated by individuals on their own or through collection drives organized by schools, civic or religious groups and businesses,” according to information on the group’s Web site. “Several companies have become Corporate Sponsors or Friends of Operation Gratitude through their generous donation of products.”

Packages are sent to troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, South Korea, Africa, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Guantanamo Bay and onto Navy ships, officials said.


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