Operation Gives Christmas: Dec. 2014

Operation Gives Christmas: Dec. 2014


With my head still spinning from our most recent miraculous humanitarian relief mission to the Island Kingdom of Tonga, I have been on a whirlwind tour through New Zealand, Los Angeles, back home to Salt Lake City, Utah and now if you can believe it back living in South Korea. In the course of all this traveling and without the cover of white snow to get me in the spirit of the season, I haven’t been able to focus much on Christmas. But, the one thing each year that gets me in the giving spirit is Operation Christmas Stocking.

Fortunately, during my time at home I was able to take part in a stocking-stuffing event at the Mesa Systems warehouse with a great group of about 30 people from the Utah State Health Department. It was a wonderful event, full of Christmas spirit and plenty of great items to stuff into the almost 1,000 stockings we prepared for shipment overseas to our troops. This brought our total for 2014 to over 5,000 Christmas stockings that have been either sent into us or stuffed at the warehouse.

With a winter chill in the air, Christmas music playing in the background and free food from Papa Johns and Jimmy Johns as motivation, each of our Christmas do-gooders cheerfully grabbed an empty Christmas stocking and proceeded down the line of tables grabbing items to stuff in the stockings. You could tell they were all thinking about how each item would be received on the other end by a soldier away from home. They each made their selection from piles of items and obviously put their own amount of TLC into each stocking.

About halfway through the event I took a moment to sincerely thank each of them for their kind efforts and to express my own feelings about what it is like to receive a Christmas stocking while deployed to a far off land during Christmas. As I thought about my own experience during the Christmas of 2003 in Baghdad and with tears in my eyes I tried to explain the deeper significance of the Christmas stocking and the message it sends to a soldier that he hasn’t been forgotten. During this busy Christmas season, I truly appreciated their service and sacrifice to help make Operation Christmas Stocking possible. What better way to spend this Christmas time then to be in the service of our fellow citizens who are serving our great nation.

I was extremely grateful that I was there to take part in this event and especially thankful I was able to share this moment with my wife and two sons, who, with their families, took part also. All of our spirits were high and the air was full of laughter, as we joyfully stuffed as many stockings as we could and prepared the pallets of stockings for shipment overseas.

A few days later FedEx picked up a total of 12 pallets of Christmas stockings, each pallet weighing in at around 1100 pounds. To our joy and excitement, within the following week we received word that the stockings had arrived at their destination and were clearing customs. We appreciate the Utah based Goldman Sachs group who not only took part in their own stocking stuffing event, but also donated most of the money needed to pay for the shipment, which FedEx took care of at a much discounted rate.

The great thing about this year’s Operation Christmas Stocking is that I will not only be able to take part in the front end of stuffing the stockings but also in the backend of actually delivering some of the stockings in person to individual soldiers here in South Korea. We were able to ship a certain amount of the stockings to the USO here in South Korea, for delivery to a small percentage of the 28,000 plus service men and women serving here.

With the help of the USO and the Red Cross, we are scheduled to go out tomorrow on Monday the 22nd of December to deliver the stockings to all the soldiers living in the barracks here on the Yongsan base. The USO has helped us with the distribution of the stockings to the soldiers for the past 3 years, this year being the 4th year of their participation. We thank all of their volunteers for their efforts to help make this all possible. (I will be taking a lot of video and photos of the event, so stay tuned for that later this week).

In the course of my busy life, with all the other things I have going on, it is this type of event that helps bring me back to what is important in life and reminds me of my true path towards happiness. It is only when we are in the service of our fellow men that we truly start to see the bigger picture of what life is and should be all about.

Many great people have stated the following,

“Emerson said that every great institution is but the lengthened shadow of a great person. The power is in us, in each of us the power to do significant acts of service on our own initiative if we will become anxiously engaged.”
Gordon B. Hinckley
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
Chinese Proverb
In the bible we read,
“If any man will come after me [He said], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24–25; see also Matthew 10:39).

Lately as I continue to evaluate the purpose of my own existence, I continue to think back on how Operation Give began and what its purpose was and currently is. The purpose of Operation Give first and foremost is to provide an opportunity for soldiers and others to serve their fellow men; to provide the needed supplies and resources necessary to serve the needs of others. As with Operation Christmas Stocking, we provide people on the front end an opportunity to serve through donating items and to participate in events and on the backend we provide people an opportunity to serve as they donate their time and efforts in distributing items to individual soldiers.
In the course of life, as each one of us try to figure out what we are supposed to be doing while on this earth, we all have those times, if even for a moment, when we discover something we know we were supposed to be doing and usually it has something to do with serving someone else. There is a plan for each of us and we all have a purpose that needs to be accomplished, it is just a matter of figuring that out.

More often then not, our purpose in life has something to do with serving others and finding ways to give back or pay it forward to others.

That is what it is all about and we at Operation Give can provide you a way to do that.
Don’t forget to Give back or to Give it forward to others this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas

Chief Wiggles
“Doing it the Wiggles way”

Posted by Chief Wiggles Tuesday, 23 December 2014




It all came about at a McDonalds, several months ago, during a planning meeting of all the key people at Operation Give. For many months previous to this meeting, due to the large number of home projects I have been working on, I had not been able to meet up with Elaine, Steve, my son Michael and Rob (out web guy). But once we were all able to be in the same room together (even at a McDonalds), (actually for the first time since my return from South Korea), our combined synergy became the catalyst or stimulus for a lot of fresh ideas for Operation Give. There was a free flowing stream of consciousness that brought about a sequence of ideas, one good idea leading to another even better idea.
Operation Tonga had been in the works for many months prior to our McDonald’s rendezvous. For months the local LDS Tongan church community from Salt Lake City and Provo City had been building wooden crates over at our Mesa Moving and Storage warehouse and collecting much needed food items (wheat, rice, flour, sugar, cooking oil, etc) that were stacked up on pallets throughout the warehouse. Operation Give arranged for the items to be stored at Mesa Systems, had offered to help arrange for the shipping of the crates and agreed to provide 3 forty-foot containers of additional humanitarian supplies (school supplies, clothes, shoes, hygiene kits, new born baby kits, etc) for the people of Tonga. But, that is as far as our thought process had gone.
With some burgers, fries and drinks laid out before us, Rob – Jaden (I was finally able to meet up with Rob Ratliff (our website guy) and his son Jaden (photographer) for the first time) – Elaine Steve and my son Michael all seated around the table, the stage was set for some powerful things to transpire. As the meeting began we started to discuss the usual every day items that needed addressing but soon after Rob mentioned in passing that he had been on location in Tennessee filming a Civil War reenactment, it was as if simultaneously a light went on in all of our heads, (actually I think my son Michael connected the dots first, but anyway).
Collectively we thought, “Why don’t we go to Tonga along with a film crew so that we can be on the ground when the containers arrive, take part in the distribution of all the humanitarian supplies we are shipping and make a documentary of the whole thing, from start to finish?” Over the past 11 years of Operation Give’s history we had never really professionally documented the whole process from one end to another; from collecting the donations to actually participating in the distribution. Now of course I have been on both ends; having participated in the entire process and have been on the ground to assist in the distribution of supplies in Iraq and South Korea, but never had I recorded the whole thing for posterity.
What a great idea we collectively agreed and how cool would that be to actually be able to show in video and photos the entire thing from one end to another? What if we could create a documentary of Operation Tonga; to show all those who have participated and donated so much how we actually helped the people of the island of Ha’apai (one of the islands of Tonga hit by the devastating cyclone)? What if we could record and show everyone how Operation Tonga was a complete success and how we accomplished all our goals? And moreover, what if we could have many more such humanitarian relief trips to other needy countries around the world; providing many more additional opportunities for people to serve?
Over the years as we have sent humanitarian supplies to over 17 different countries around the world, it has always been a challenge to get video or even photos of the items actually getting to the intended people in need. We don’t always get proof that the goods have been distributed to those that need them most. Now in most cases we have sent the items to deployed soldiers or other trusted humanitarian/church groups, so we know the items were delivered but it is always better to be able to show everyone how the whole thing went down.
Without a whole lot of discussion right there in McDonalds we wrote up a plan on a napkin for my wife and I to go to Tonga along the Rob and his film crew of two others. The plan was put into motion that day and we all ended up in Tonga a few weeks later; all part of Operation Tonga the humanitarian relief mission to provide supplies and aid to the people on the island of Ha’apai. And guess what we are working on the documentary of the entire project from start to finish, which will show everyone how the whole thing happened and hopefully inspire other to want to get involved.
Our new vision for Operation Give will definitely take us to the next level and will provide many more opportunities for people to serve; whether on this end or on the receiving end, wherever we go around the world. Operation Give is all about people volunteering to serve other people, as all of us on the team are currently doing. Losing ourselves in the service of others and providing those who desire, in many cases the military or their families, an opportunity to serve and be served. It is our goal to provide the opportunities and the resources needed to serve our military men and women and to provide them and their families an opportunity to participate in this service. This is a great way forward, one we are really excited about.
In the end we were all, including Paul and Ginger Diamond, able to go to Tonga and had an incredible journey; accomplishing much and of course documented the entire project from beginning to end and took over a terabyte of footage and photos recording the distribution of humanitarian supplies to the people of the Tongan island of Ha’apai.
I will write more later about our trip to Tonga, so stay tuned in.
Chief Wiggles
“Doing it the Wiggles way”

 Posted by Chief Wiggles Tuesday, 23 

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