Discordia interviewed Raymond Whitaker who is the COO of the amazing charity Operation Supply Drop, they send out games and consoles to veterans and wounded troops in hostile environments. If you are interested in supporting the amazing work they do then check out the links at the bottom of the article.
So since 2010 you have been shipping out care packages to people doing amazing work out in hostile environments. Your efforts have helped a lot of people be able to enjoy an experience that would otherwise be potentially unpleasant. How does it feel to have brought happiness to so many people?
Well, I certainly can’t take credit for this amazing idea. Although, I get the joy of ensuring that we get as many of these out each month as possible to support veterans all over the world. Each requester has a different story and reason to be asking for a video game care package. We certainly love having the ability to make military veterans or active duty smile when they receive a supply drop. Each littered with gaming goodness! So, how does it make me feel? Wondering why I did not get one of these when I was deployed.
Sending out that much to our troops must have quite a high cost, how do you tackle this when deciding what to send out?
The cost really varies supply drop to supply drop and a single drop can have up to 10 consoles. Some supply drops we will only pay for shipping, while other Supply Drops we will have to pay for the gear inside, the games and shipping. We have an amazing support mechanism around our community. Many help us with in-kind donations and donations to ensure that we don’t have a problem picking and choosing who gets a supply drop. We do everything we can to support each request that comes in through our system.
The idea of your Thank You Deployments are really cool, but how do you decide who gets these honours? Are there any specific criteria?
Well, we don’t want to share all the secrets but our Thank You Deployments are first scrutinized by those that nominate them. We have a nomination process that helps us ensure that the veteran being recommended for a Thank You Deployment is one that deserves it. From there, we start our process of verification. We are always looking for veterans who others believe have gone above and beyond. That could be a disabled veteran or one that constantly gives their personal time to support others. Like any good program, we will continue to keep it generationally relevant.
What is the defining moment of your work in your cause? What is one moment that has really made you smile?
Helping someone is always a defining moment for me. The great part working for a non-profit or charity, you see things that make you happy daily. Just solidifying that what you are doing is affecting others lives. Helping people find jobs, helping them find homes and having a rowdy group of steely eyed veterans to game with that you know will have your back.
Since 2010, how many gifts and drops do you think you have you sent out to troops in total?
Since 2010, we’ve completed approximately 350 supply drops of varying sizes to well over a dozen counties and to just as many nationalities (we actively support US, NATO and ANZAC). Through all 3 of our major programs, we’ve directly impacted well over 40,000 active-duty personnel and veterans, with over half that occurring last year in 2015.
Our readers should really consider donating to your cause, can you give them some idea how their donations will be used?
We really take two kinds of donations: 1) In-kind donations. So all those used games you say you are going to take and trade in but you don’t, we will take them. Those are great ways to fill in our supply drops we are sending overseas. 2) Cash donations. These help us pay for all the operating costs it takes to fund Supply Drops, The Teams and Thank You Deployments. Either of these type of donations are super beneficial and absolutely help us with our mission.
As for how money is used, 88% of everything we get in goes directly back to support veterans. So, the good news is that you can know that your money is going to help us do what we can to Make Fun Where There is None.
If you’d like to join 8-Bit Salute for 2016, you can do so here: fundraise.operationsupplydrop.org/8BS16
For information on in-kind donations and other options, please visit: operationsupplydrop.org/donate.
A huge thanks to everyone at the amazing Operation Supply Drop and keep it G33k!