VBSO to receive 450 care packages from Operation Gratitude

On Monday, March 13, the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office is set to receive 450 care packages weighing 1,100 pounds from the nonprofit Operation Gratitude, thanks to a 2022 holiday email from VBSO Master Deputy II Kyle Silvernail.

“During the holidays, my family and I were watching TV and we saw an ad for this organization and its military and first responder care packages. My mother-in-law, Eileen Maiolo, then asked whether the Sheriff’s Office would like something like that,” said MD Silvernail, who has worked for the VBSO since December 2010. “Without hesitation I said that would be a great morale booster!”

The family found the organization online and sent an email. Operation Gratitude replied that it had exhausted its holiday supplies but that the VBSO would receive care packages after more were assembled. That happened the second-to-last week of February

“The feeling it gave me to see total strangers giving back to not just military, but us first responders, made me want to do this for all my brothers and sisters in our department,” MD Silvernail shared.

Operation Gratitude started in 2003 in the home of Carolyn Blashek after a soldier told her that he was returning to Iraq and probably wouldn’t make it back to the U.S. after his tour, but that it didn’t matter because “no one would even care.” Blashek cared and started the organization to show service members just that. Nearly 20 years later, Operation Gratitude has distributed more than 3.5 million care packages around the world to deployed military, first responders, veterans, military families, boot camp graduates, and wounded heroes and their caregivers.

Items in the packages to be delivered on Monday include lip balm, a small hygiene kit, vitamin C supplements, a paracord bracelet handmade by a volunteer and a handwritten letter of gratitude.

“I hope these care packages bring smiles to everyone,” wrote Kristen Vauiso, the director of the organization’s Military and First Responder Programs.

The VBSO will track the delivery and have more information about an ETA on Monday.

For more information on Operation Gratitude, visit

Any questions or requests for additional information from the news media may be directed to Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti or Strategic Communications Consultant Kathy Hieatt at or or 757-385-8446. Members of the news media who would like to attend the package delivery on Monday should contact PIO Guagenti to make arrangements.