Serving Those Who Serve at Home and Abroad

aka OHH   |   Lake Forest, CA   |  www.operationhelpahero.org


Operation Help a Hero (OHH) is a 501 (c) (3) public charity (FID 27-1438256) dedicated to taking 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 during transition back to the U.S. Our projects uplift service members and send a clear message of support to their families. We connect communities with our troops and provide real opportunities to make a difference in their lives. We are an all volunteer organization. All board members and directors volunteer their time to focus donations on on the military heroes we serve. Every cent contributed to OHH is used to serve our military community, and every project is based on real needs.

Ruling year info


Executive Director/ Founder

Mrs. Cindy Farnum

Main address

26247 Enterprise Ct

Lake Forest, CA 92630 USA

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Formerly known as

Operation Sweet Dreams/ St. Johns Marine Ministries



NTEE code info

Military/Veterans' Organizations (W30)

Citizen Participation (W24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

With each year, as word spreads to units and military families about our programs, demand and requests for our programs keeps increasing. Because we are an all volunteer organization, and our hands on programs inspire people to donate, the challenge we currently face is maintaining the donations needed to support the needs we see during this pandemic. We've quickly adapted and gotten creative with ways to keep up programs (drive thru baby shower and drive thru Camp JOY event), but our donation needs are increasing as families struggle even more during this time. We need to reach new donors and keep our volunteers active in new ways.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Operation Rack Pack

Operation Rack Pack is Operation Help a Hero's specialty project. We prepare barracks rooms for young, single service members returning from deployment to barracks rooms. We provide gift bags with toiletries, snack foods, clothes and entertainment items; we stage towel sets, welcome home posters, drinks, kitchen kits, bathroom kits and more. Our goal is to welcome home these young heroes and give them an opportunity to clean up, get something to eat and relax their first day home.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of rallies/events/conferences/lectures held to further mission

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Operation Rack Pack

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Events include barracks projects, baby showers, camp JOY, event prep events, donation drop off events, donation drive events, trunk or treat, Christmas pick up events, Christmas parties, & festivals.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We strive to support our military community, which does so much to support our country at home and abroad.
CAMP JOY: We want children of deployed service members to experience joy while simultaneously giving a much needed break to mom/dad on the homefront and bringing a smile to mom/dad deployed.
OPERATION RACK PACK: We want young, single service members returning from deployment to the barracks to walk in their rooms to know their service did not go unnoticed. We want them to feel appreciated and at home during those first critical moments home because we know those first few days impact mental health and transition.
OPERATION ENDURING SUPPORT: We want families in emergency situations to have a place to go for immediate support and TLC. We want our fighting force to be able to focus on what matters -- their families and their mission-- and not challenges that can be supported by the community they serve.
OHH BABY!: We want new and expecting mother's with spouses deployed to know they are cherished. We want to pamper them, prepare them for the road ahead and unite them with other spouses as a support system.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: We want families, single service members and units to be touched by the Spirit of Christmas. Want want the stress the holidays can put on families financially and the ache families feel when spending the holidays without loved ones to be met with love, support and a magical Christmas. We want families who are hurting, separated or struggling to have them means to celebrate the holidays with the support of the community.
VOLUNTEERISM: As an all volunteer organization we want to foster an appreciation for our military, a sense of community and a heart for volunteering. We want to give children a chance to make a difference. We want to give businesses and groups a reason to come together for a good cause. We want civilians to feel a personal and meaningful connection with those who serve our country.
INTEGRITY: We want to be an organization that prizes making a difference over a buck. We want to help families without exploiting their needs. We want to be reliable and steadfast in our support.
FOCUSED ON THOSE WE SERVE: We want to continue to improve and alter our programs to make sure they are always focused on those we serve and real needs.
THOSE DEPLOYED: We want those deployed to rest easy knowing their families are supported on the homefront.
TANGIBLE GOALS: We want to increase our yearly donation intake by 10%. We want to grow our mid-level volunteer leadership by 25% to grow with the demand for our programs.

MILITARY VOICES: We make sure our Board of Directors, leaders and volunteer corps include military spouses, retirees, parents, wounded warriors and active duty.
UNIT RELATIONSHIPS: We establish professional yet personal rapport with the units we serve. We work closely with unit family readiness teams, chaplains and leadership to keep a pulse on their needs and establish trust.
ONLINE PRESENCE: We grow our online presence to bring in donations/volunteers to help and have an easily accessible way for families and units to reach out for help.
SOCIAL MEDIA: We use twitter, instagram, facebook, pinterest, and linked in to continuously share needs and volunteer opportunities.
APPRECIATION: We take time to thank and recognize volunteers, donors, and units that make our mission possible.
FOCUS: We stay focused on the people we serve and rallying the community.
REACH: We try to increase our reach both in our ability to help and in support by continuing to show all we come in contact with that every dollar and program we have is personal to us. We make sure all involved know we care and we want them to be part of who we are, too.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES: For the military we serve, we try to pour all our love and energy into making them feel the care put into our projects. From personal notes, welcome home posters, beds made and cold drinks for singles to personalized baby baskets and attention to detail for mommies to joyful activities for kids to hand picked pairings of families with donors at Christmas time, we make it personal.
For our community of volunteers and donors we coordinate and plan events to make their experience meaningful. Our projects are hands on and a chance to KNOW you are making a difference.
YOUTH: We make sure to involve schools, youth groups, sports teams, scouts, troops and volunteer groups in our programs because we know kids shape our future and always inspire new ideas.
CORPORATE SPONSORS: We are working on growing our corporate relationships. Because we are not a massive organization, we can be overlooked by the numbers, so we try to reach them through their hearts with service projects.

We are capable of understanding those we serve because many of us are living as members of military families ourselves.
We are capable of reaching out to the community through our website, facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter. We are capable of organizing large groups of volunteers and supplies for barracks projects, with nearly 20 years of doing this under our belts.
We have the capability to coordinate well orchestrated family and single service member adoptions for Operation Christmas Spirit.
We have the capability to respond quickly to requests for emergency support due to our online forms, relationships with units, familiarity with programs and circumstances that may be involved and hard earned experience rallying support.
We have the capability to organize and plan complex events with rotation of activities and large groups of volunteers.
We have the capability to train new volunteers utilizing their strengths as individuals.
With the funds and donations to support, each program is well-thought-out and organized but adaptable.
We have a large network of military families, friends, volunteers and supporters who have experience with our programs.

We have welcomed home over 69,700 single service members to the barracks through our Operation Rack Pack program.
We have served over 670 families in crisis through our Operation Enduring Support Program.
We have served over 1,300 new and expecting mothers with spouses deployed through our OHH Baby Program.
We've served 5,900+ children, 4,500+ families and 13,075 single service members through our Operation Christmas Spirit Program.
We have celebrated 2,450 children enduring a parent deployed while also giving their moms/dads on the homefront a break through our Camp JOY program.
Our former pen pal program served 5,580+ deployed service members with letters and care packages from 2002-2008.
Our former Operation Bedtime Stories program sent surprise books along with videos of mom/dad reading to over 1,224 children of deployed service members between 2007-2013.
Our former Comfort for the Caregiver program hosted a spa-type experience for 473 spouses of deployed service members from 2008-2012.
In addition, we've supported hundreds of unit events from spring carnivals to Halloween parties, from trunk or treats to homecoming events, and from valentine's parties to game nights.
We've grown from supporting 1 unit in 2001 to supporting units all over the US. We've grown from supporting just Marine Corps units to troops from all branches of service.
We've grown from a few volunteers and students to an organization comprised of thousands of volunteers each year.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Board of directors
as of 09/19/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mrs. Cindy Farnum

Operation Help a Hero

Term: 2009 - 2022

Board co-chair

Mrs. Wendy Ruiz

Operation Help a Hero

Term: 2014 - 2023

Cindy Farnum

Military Spouse

Wendy Ruiz

La Strada Contracting, owner

Laura Hopper

Hopper Interior Designs, owner

Sarah Quail

Military Spouse

Judy Wagner

Military parent

Steven Wagner


Amber Martin

Martin Investment Properties, owner

Bernadette Jarosz

Military Spouse

Kristin McKenzie

Military Spouse

Julie Jenkins


Susan Zamora

Military Parent

Christy Wrightson

Guys Giving Back Founder

Natalie Ochs

Lifestyled Group, owner

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/18/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/18/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.