Bank of America and O’Melveny Team Up to Send Backpacks to Children in Afghanistan through Operation Gratitude

May 18, 2017

BofA employee from Bay Area leading the effort while stationed in Kabul
Backpack stuffing events in San Francisco May 18; Los Angeles May 25


LOS ANGELES, CA—May 18, 2017—Dubbed “Operation Backpack Afghanistan,” O’Melveny, Bank of America, and Operation Gratitude will collect school supplies, pack, and distribute more than 500 backpacks to poor and homeless children in Afghanistan this month. The idea came from Bank of America employee, Lieutenant Commander Glenn Z. Uy, Navy Reservist, who is currently stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of his reservist duties.

He and his team at Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan see firsthand the work of NGOs and charities in Kabul that work with war orphans and other children impacted by violence, and knew that employees from Bank of America and O’Melveny, long time supporters of veterans’ causes, could help.

“As a Navy reservist at Bank of America, this is my fourth active duty deployment with the U.S. Armed Forces. I strongly believe that the community building efforts we do here in Kabul, Afghanistan, will one day bring security and freedom to this country. Opportunities to help the children in Kabul remind us why we serve in the first place,” said Lieutenant Commander Glenn Z. Uy, Navy Reservist.

The backpacks, to include notebooks, pencils, erasers, crayons, sharpeners, pens, and rulers, were donated by Bank of America and will be assembled at two different locations on May 18 in San Francisco, where Lieutenant Commander Uy works as a senior mortgage underwrite when not on active military duty, and in Los Angeles on May 25, where Operation Gratitude is headquartered. Volunteers from O’Melveny and Bank of America will stuff the backpacks. Then Operation Gratitude, which was founded by Carolyn Blashek, wife of O’Melveny partner Rob Blashek, and has shipped nearly two million care packages to our military on deployment, will mail the backpacks to Lieutenant Commander Uy to ultimately be distributed throughout the region by various NGO and charitable partners in Kabul.

“Navy Reservist, Lieutenant Commander Uy shared the need to help the children, many of them orphaned, who aren’t allowed to go to school without their own school supplies,” said Rochelle Karr, director of Corporate Social Responsibility at O’Melveny. “One conversation turned into two events and 500 backpacks that will hopefully make a fundamental difference in the lives of these children.”

One of O’Melveny’s most targeted areas of work is for veterans, through pro bono representations, an internal veteran advisory group, and connecting top corporate executives looking to hire veterans for important civil positions. Similarly, supporting the military has been a focus of Bank of America for nearly 100 years, both in its flexibility for employees who do serve and its pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and service members over the next few years.

“All men and women who serve our country in the armed forces have our gratitude and support. With thousands of employees who are veterans, Guard and Reservists, Bank of America helps them reintegrate into the civilian workforce as well as provide assurance and stability when our active duty colleagues like Glenn are deployed,” said Janet Lamkin, California president, Bank of America. “We also know that supporting our employees encourages them to give back to the community through volunteerism, like Operation Backpack with partners O’Melveny and Operation Gratitude to help make lives better even across the globe.”

Bank of America provides time off from work and benefits for active military duty up to five years as part of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), with no minimum length of service required.

Both O’Melveny and Bank of America previously joined forces, along with General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs, and local corporate leaders, to discuss veteran hiring initiatives as part of an ongoing collaboration to address veteran and military issues.

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Julie Fei
O’Melveny & Myers LLP