Operation Help A Hero
Providing for those who serve at home and abroad
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 Mission Statement 

 Our Address/ Location

 Board Member and Contact Information

 Our History 

  How Your Donation Dollars are Used

 Our Vision for an OHH-So-Bright Future for Military Families            



Operation Help a Hero is a 501 (c) (3) public charity (Federal Tax ID 27-1438256) dedicated to the well-being and care of our American military members. Our programs support military units and families as they prepare for separation, while they endure the challenges of deployment, and as they transition back to the United States. Our projects uplift our military heroes and send a clear message of support to their entire family. Operation Help a Hero connects communities with service member and provides real opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those who serve our country. We are an all volunteer organization. All board members and directors volunteer their time to focus all donations on our projects and the military heroes they serve. Every cent contributed to Operation Help a Hero is used to serve our military community, and every project is based on real needs. 

Click here for a one page document with our mission statement and project overview


While our donors and supporters come from all over the country, we are an organization based out of Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, CA. Because we are a "mom and pop" organization, we focus most of our efforts on local bases -- Camp Pendleton, Miramar, and 29 Palms. We operate out of a PO Box and work from our homes to ensure your donation dollars are spent on our service members rather than operational costs.

Our mailing address: Operation Help a Hero, PO Box 80996, Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca 92688


Please note that all of our board members and project leaders/coordinators are VOLUNTEERS, donating their time (no pay). Many of these wonderful people work during business hours and will respond as soon as they are able. This ensures that your donations are given directly to the men, women and families we serve. 
OHH Camp Joy (Mom's Day Off) Coordinator, Michele Chenault: mrschenault@cox.net
OHH Baby Shower Child Care Coordinator, Laura Hopper: ttalhopstop@aol.com
Operation Christmas Spirit Coordinator, Kristen Lanham: kristenlanham@me.com
Comfort for the Caregiver Coordinators, Cindy Farnum: cfarnum@operationhelpahero.com and Connie Thompson: conthompson@aol.com
Operation Bedtime Stories Coordinator, Judy Wagner: judy@wagnerz.com
Operation Rack Pack Coordinator, Wendy Ruiz: ruiz01@cox.net
Operation Enduring Support Coordinator, Michelle Walters: mimi.walters@cox.net
Volunteer Coordinator, Cindy Farnum: cfarnum@operationhelpahero.com
Fundraising Events Coordinator, Christy Wrightson: wrightsons@cox.net 
Community Relations, Sarah Quail: sarahquail110@gmail.com
Press releases, Virginia Belmont:  TheBelmonts@aol.com
Board Member
 Projects/ Committees
Contact Information
 Cindy Farnum, President
Volunteer Coordinator Unit Support Coordinator
Operation Enduring Support Team
School Chapter Coordinator (elementary and middle school level)
Operation Christmas Spirit Angel Tree Coordinator
Web Design
Michele Chenault, Vice President
Donation Drive Coordinator

Kristen Lanham, Chairperson of the Board
Operation Christmas Spirit Leader/Coordinator and "Adoption" Liaison. 
Legal Consultant
Operation Enduring Support Team
Unit Support Team
Laura Hopper, Secretary      
OHH Baby Shower Leader/Coordinator
OHH Gear
Michelle Walters, Treasurer
Operation Enduring Support Team
Operation Christmas Spirit RSM Coordinator
Sharon Wackeen, Board Member
OHH Baby Shower Assistant
Enduring Support Ministries
Judy Wagner, Board Member
 Operation Bedtime Stories Coordinator
Operation Rack Pack Assistant
Tom Tews,
Board Member   
Adoptive City Liaison 
Cindy Burlingame, Advisory Committee
 Marine Corps Community Liaison
Unit Support Coordinator
Shelly Nishimi Board Member
 School Chapter Program, St. John's School
Operation Christmas Spirit SJES MMT Coordinator
Steve Wagner, Board Member
Wendy Ruiz, Board Member
SMCHS OHH Club Advisor
OHH Fundraising co-coordinator
Operation Rack Pack Coordinator
Connie Thompson, Board Member
 Gratitude coordinator (thank yous)
Comfort for the Caregiver Assistant Coordinator
OHH Baby Shower Assistant Coordinator
Sarah Quail, Board Member   
Operation Rack Pack Assistant
OHH Baby Shower Assistant
Community Relations
Christy Wrightson, Board Member
Virginia Belmont,
Advisory Committee
Jacky Zillman Advisory committee
 Operation Rack Pack Assistant
Comfort for the Caregiver Assistant Coordinator
Lisa Reed, Advisory Committee                            
Lisa is a super mommy with YEARS of supporting Camp Pendleton Marines on her long resume of community outreach efforts. She is unable to be active at this time but always has a place with us when she can make it. We love you, Lisa!

Our first barracks drive efforts for First Battalion, Fifth Marines in May of 2003.


Operation Help A Hero (formerly known as Operation Sweet Dreams or St. Johns Marine Ministries) began as a grass roots Marine Ministries/ Pen Pal group in the fall of 2002, when Cindy Farnum's Middle School students at St. John's Episcopal School decided to write to and support the Marines of First Battalion, Fifth Marines. At that time, Mr. Farnum, a Marine, was preparing to deploy, and Cindy was the Key Volunteer Coordinator for 1/5 (2001-2004). By the end of December 2002/ January 2003, 1/5 began deploying to  Kuwait and eventually led the push across the border into Iraq starting Operation Iraqi  Freedom. During this deployment, St. Johns students and families wrote and sent care packages to over 1,300 Marines in and attached to 1/5. The group also supported and collected items for 1/5's injured during the deployment and assisted in welcome home festivities (to include the barracks project pictured above) for the battalion, coordinating with the unit's Key Volunteers. The support of St. Johns was even mentioned in Chaplain Carey Cash's book A Table in the Presence. Cindy, because of the whole community's response to these efforts, was recognized in 2003 by California Governor Gray for her efforts in support of local Marines, Sailors and families of the fallen. 

The following year, in early 2004, St. John's Marine Ministries and Pen Pal Group continued its relationship with 1/5 as they deployed yet another time to Iraq -- this time Fallujah. Students and families continued to write letters, send care packages and support the Marines' families locally. When 1/5 lost many in during Operation Vigilant resolve, our organization rallied and collected $5,000 for every child of a fallen Marine in 1/5 AND four children who lost their father with 2/7 (out of 29 Palms). We began to host family events for Camp Pendleton units, whose hands are often tied when donations are needed. These events included help at Christmas parties, babysitting for KVN events, Fall Festivals, hosting a Spring Carnival at Lake O'Neil, rack presents for 1/5's single Marines and throwing welcome home parties for returning units. This was also the year we began hosting baby showers for deployed units. 

In 2004, we began what would become an annual drive -- Operation Christmas Spirit. Started by Christy Wrightson, this drive collects toys, gifts, gift cards and cash donations to thank our local Marines and Sailors and fullfill their holiday wish lists. Since 2004, Operation Christmas Spirit has collected truckloads of Christmas items given to deployed units, ipods for Wounded Warriors and Balboa Hospital's Wounded in Action patients, and tons of items used at various Camp Pendleton Christmas parties. In addition, each year military families are asked to make Christmas wish lists and paired with other families, groups and businesses to make their wishes a reality.  This program remained in action even when Mrs. Farnum moved to Quanitco for the 2004-2005 school year, keeping the efforts in tact while Cindy was away.

With 5 years of service with the programs above, in 2007, we decided we wanted to share our mission of fostering learning through our newest project: Operation Bedtime Story. We video recorded Marines reading children's books for their children and/or wives. The videos were carefully burned to DVDs and shipped out to families as a nice suprise. Each video also came with the book read in the recording or a box of chocolates. Our guinea pigs were 1st CEB and 3/5, and the results were great!

Since our efforts -- which began in 2001 and solidified in 2002-- were growing as were the requests of Camp Pendleton units, in December of 2009, we became a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity. We spent years helping local military families out of the goodness of their hearts, but we realized that an official non-profit status would help us continue to support local families and be able to give (tax exemption for donations) in return. 

In the past 10 years, Operation Help A Hero volunteers/leaders have served many Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms and Mirimar units, to include: The 11th MEU, 13th MEU, 31st MEU, 15th MEU, 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 2/4, 1/1, 2/1, 3/1, 1/4, 1st LAR, 1st CEB, 1st Radio BN, SOI West, CLB 5, the Wounded Warrior House, 3/4, HMLA 169, 7th ESB, 1st Recon, HMM 268, and Balboa Naval Hospital (San Diego).


Our organization has grown beyond the grassroots ministry started in 2002 and now works with groups across the country to bring peace to our American patriots in uniform thanks to people like you! We ARE still a "mom and pop" organization in that we operate locally to ensure that every dollar or good donated goes to the men and women we serve, but make no mistake-- our projects and efforts are huge! 


When a donor gives to Operation Help a Hero, we make sure that every cent you donate is used to support the men and women in uniform we serve. If no donation designation is noted, we use monetary donations to complete current projects, to ensure we have enough supplies (for example, toiletry items for the barracks, baby items for the baby showers, etc.). When a donor designates his/her donation for a specific project or unit, we make sure that every cent is spent on that project and track how the donation dollars were spent. We even allow donors to tell us WHAT they want us to buy and make requests for specific service members receive the goods they donate. 

As Operation Help a Hero looks ahead as a non-profit organization, we have lots of new projects and plans in store. It is our hope to be ever-changing to meet the needs of the military families we serve. Upcoming projects and programs in the works include:
  • Operation Sweet Dreams for Special Kids: This program will assist military families with special needs children and assist families in need of assistance with the costs of proper therapy for their children. Our  goal is to help military families struggling to provide the best care possible for their children with some assistance. The long term goal is to thank our military heroes with special needs kids with the gift of investing in their child/children's future.
  • Healing Words for Wounded Warriors: This project focuses on supporting our wounded warriors, often bed-ridden for months at a time. HWWW will work to supply wounded warriors with books, magazines, audio books, iPods, Kindles, iTunes/Netflix/Blockbuster gift cards, and writing supplies. Our goal is to provide simple tools to stimulate the mind while our military's state-of-the-art medical facilities focus on the physical recovery of our wounded heroes.
  • School Chapter Program: This program is designed to assist schools start OHH chapters. Each school chapter is provided with starter materials, lesson plans, project binders and OHH board member support. It is our goal to keep expanding the school chapter program and have OHH School programs in place near all major military installations. Each school chapter is required to participate in at least one of our annual drives/fundraisers AND to come up with a student-driven project each year. 
  • Enduring Support Ministries: Although this facet of OHH is not new to us, we will have a team dedicated entirely to assisting military families/members during crisis. Our team consists of military spouses (to mentor), spiritual counselors (to heal), handy-men (to assist when things break down), and a variety of volunteers (to coordinate donations, financial assistance, meals, babysitting, etc.)
Don't forget the projects/drives we already have in place
OHH Baby Showers, Operation Christmas Spirit, Unit Support Coordinators, Return and Reunion/Welcome Home Coordinators, Build-Your-Own-Care-Package Events for Deployed Units, Operation Rack Pack, Operation Bedtime Stories, Banner Party Assistance, Pen Pal Program and more.
Copyright 2009-2012, Operation Help a Hero, Inc.