Operation Hat Trick (OHT) Overview
MISSION STATEMENT - "Operation Hat Trick generates awareness and support for the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through the sale of branded merchandise and products, proceeds of which are donated to selected organizations that support the OHT mission"
The short story:
Supported by over 350 leading universities, two living Presidents, NHL, NBA, MLB and major corporations, Operation Hat Trick (OHT) is a 501c3 helping America’s injured service members recover from the visible and invisible wounds of war. Since 2014, OHT has donated over $3 million to programs that meet its mission. Over 1.6 million consumers have made a “purchase with a purpose” by buying OHT hats, apparel, other merchandise and products. OHT strives to fill some critical gaps in care, getting desperately needed support to veterans where it’s needed most.
Social Media Accounts
Facebook — www.facebook.com/OperationHatTrick
Twitter — @SupportOHT
Instagram — @operationhattrick
YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/c/OperationhattrickOrg
LinkedIn — www.linkedin.com/company/operation-hat-trick
Website — www.operationhattrick.org
OHT online store: https:/www.47brand.com/collections/oht
The full story:
From humble beginnings ...
- Dot Sheehan, is the pink, aqua & purple haired spark behind Operation Hat Trick. In 2007, she was listening to a Boston radio station airing a trivia contest. The question was: “What’s the one thing most wanted by head-wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?” The answer was baseball caps to cover wounds, burns, swelling and bandages. So simple. The seeds were planted.
- OHT sprang to life in 2008, when tragedy hit Dot’s University of New Hampshire community where she was Senior Associate Athletic Director, External Relations. Nate Hardy and Mike Koch, two Navy SEAL friends who trained and fought together, had died in a nighttime raid in Iraq against an Al-Qaeda suicide bomb cell. They are buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery. Nate was the son of UNH professor Steve Hardy and his wife Donna; word of the tragedy had spread through the university community. Dot’s dream now had a connection point, focus and purpose. 2018 marks the 10-year anniversary of Nate and Mike’s passing, memorialized on all OHT merchandise hangtags.
- Dot began by giving OHT-branded hats to service members with head and brain injuries, visiting Walter Reed Hospital and VA Medical Centers to make a difference.
- OHT first started getting traction within the collegiate space, gaining recognition – and growing support – with colleges and universities. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) was the first to get involved when the University of Notre Dame urged OHT to go national. To achieve this, Dot needed to create manufacturing, sales and distribution for the non-profit brand. After three providers turned OHT down, Boston-based ‘47 had the vision to take a chance. Operation Hat Trick became a social innovation organization and a business model was developed to address a social need.
- Hats were all OHT had to offer for merchandise in the early days. In its first full year of operation, OHT sold a few hundred hats and raised $1,500 in donations. “I was very proud of this at the time,” said Dot Sheehan. 100% of those proceeds were donated to the National Military Medical Center at Walter Reed for their critically wounded amputees and traumatic brain Injury patients.
... to a national movement
- “They promised to defend; we promise to support” is the rallying cry of Operation Hat Trick. OHT has lived up to this mantra.
- The organization has gained support from – and partnered with – hundreds of sports teams, including over 500 colleges and universities in all 50 states, 130 high schools, 20 National Hockey League teams, 85 Minor League baseball teams, 13 NBA teams, and over 100 companies. OHT has also been visible at 16 NASCAR races.
- OHT is an apolitical philanthropic organization focused on supporting wounded and recovering service members and veterans, “a cause that should transcend politics,” Dot says. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have supported Operation Hat Trick.
- Over 100 companies have partnered with OHT, including Sig Sauer, Red River Technology, Wilcox Industries, Geriatric Medical, Advocare, Texas Roadhouse and the Lids Foundation.
- The OHT product line now includes many different co-branded items, including headwear,apparel (t-shirts, sweatshirts), headbands,cornhole and tailgate games and accessories, drinkware,Cyclone Tumblers,sneakers, loungewear, tailgate tents and chairs, mugs, throws, breathable silicon rings, beach towels and decorative armbands.
- ‘47, is one of the nation’s premier sports headwear and apparel companies, and was OHT’s original headwear and apparel partner. “They took a chance on us when no one else would,” Dot Sheehan said. Along with ’47, OHT pioneered the “camo” apparel trend now popular nationwide.
- OHT currently has 10 licensees and is always searching for others that fit with OHT’s mission.
- OHT products are sold through over 1,000 retailers and an estimated 5,000 retail doors,and is part of hundreds of ecommerce sites. Supporting retailers include industry leaders Follett; Lids; Target; Barnes & Noble; Dick’s Sporting Goods; Hibbett; Olympia Sports; Bob’s stores; Meier; Scheels,and Modell’s, to name a few. In late 2017, Target brought OHT merchandise into 1,000 of its stores. OHT is also a recognized charity in Amazon’s Smile program.
How OHT differs from other veteran focused 501c3’s:
- Many Americans express support for our nation’s military and veterans, but not everyone converts those sentiments into action. That’s the beauty of OHT – supporting the cause is as simple as making a purchase.
- OHT fills a critical financing gap that exists between conventional organizations and government programs that don’t cover (and/or can’t quickly meet) a wide range of personal needs that help vets, yet regularly fall through the cracks.
- Dot rallied around a different operating model in forming OHT: be a “pass-through” 501c3 that funds carefully selected (typically) smaller military support organizations – compatible with OHT’s mission. The organization works with dozens of its college and university partners to identify worthy organizations in their own communities.
- The organization is transparent and lean. A decade since its founding (2018 is OHT’s 10-year anniversary), Dot remains the only employee. She believes in OHT so much she retired from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 to focus 100% on the cause. Hundreds of volunteers and an actively engaged Board of Directors help spark the cause.
- OHT pioneered the first national philanthropic co-branded cause marketing retail apparel licensing program in conjunction with America’s colleges and universities. Hats and gear feature the college logo in addition to the OHT brand. A royalty paid by the manufacturer for the sale of each OHT product generates the revenue stream OHT uses to fund carefully selected organizations that fulfill the OHT mission.
- The organization has inspired more than one and a half million consumers to make a “purchase with a purpose.” Dot Sheehan says, “Love of university and love of country is a powerful combination.”
- Since 2014, Operation Hat Trick has donated over $3 million to programs that meet its mission. 89% Year over Year of all OHT royalty proceeds support the recovery of wounded service members and veterans. And in FY’18, we are thrilled to announce OHT has donated 100% of its royalties to selected organizations. This has been one of OHT’s longterm goals.
- To date, OHT has provided funding to approximately 50 organizations in two dozen states, many of which treat wounded service members and veterans across the USA. The organization is driven to positively impact veterans in all 50 states.
- There’s a philosophy of “act compassionately, move quickly and make a difference” behind OHT.
- Organizations that have benefitted from OHT include Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; Veterans Count; Navy SEAL Foundation; Travis Mills Foundation: Liberty House; Project Sanctuary; Semper Fi Fund; Yellow Ribbon Fund; Homes for Our Troops; Seats For Soldiers;Soldier Strong;Headstrong;Veterans Golfers Association;the Southern AZ VA Healthcare System (the Fisher House at the Tucson,AZ VA;MN Alliance for Veterans (Duluth); Idaho Veterans Garden; Naval Hospital in San Diego; Brazos Valley Cares;Purple Heart Homes;Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors;and the Adaptive Training Foundation. (See the full list on the DONATE NOW page at www.operationhattrick.org).
- Working through “pass through” organizations that meet the OHT mission, the organization has donated money for things like:
- a cabin at a veterans’ summer camp
- sponsored hunting, fishing and skiing trips
- paid for necessary adaptive equipment
- helped with rent,heating bills and food
- has helped support a facility’s bed for veterans with substance abuse.
“We thoughtfully evaluate every need; anything veterans need to work through their injuries and rebuild their lives. And we know where the need is. Supporters are happy when they hear we support more than one organization and that we can help make a diference across the country” Dot says.
- Other examples of OHT support include paying for adaptive equipment for amputees; acquiring service dogs; buying shoes for prosthetic legs; paying for a custom bow for an injured sharp shooter with a severe shoulder injury; therapeutic mattresses for vets with spinal injuries; covering emergency rent, heating oil or car payments when those who suffer from PTSD can’t work.
- OHT’s Excellence in Service award annually recognizes universities that reflect its core value of selfless service. Texas A&M University won the award in 2017; the four finalists were Boise State; University of Oklahoma; University of Alabama; and Old Dominion University. Winning schools are selected based on their efforts to fully integrate OHT on their campuses, e.g. via retail and bookstore presence; promoting veterans causes via social media and advertising; and generating additional revenue that supports the recovery of wounded U.S. service members and veterans.
What third parties say about Operation Hat Trick:
“From my time at Walter Reed to today, Operation Hat Trick has been a true friend and partner in the success of the Travis Mills Foundation. I am so grateful for the continued partnership with OHT because I know that you believe in our success because you are a founding part of it. Without your early support, I could have never made this dream possible, and the Travis Mills Foundation has been able to serve over 200 veteran families because of that dream. Thank you, OHT, for believing in our recalibrated veterans and for supporting the Travis Mills Foundation.”
– Travis Mills, SSG-Retired, Quadruple Amputee
“I love the fact that OHT is helping those who have been wounded and trying to recover from their visible and invisible injuries. Laura and I will spend the rest of our lives making sure their lives are as good as they can be.”
– Former President George W. Bush
“The work you’ve done to mobilize young people on behalf of veterans and wounded service members is truly inspiring and I look forward to following your efforts as they continue to grow.”
— Former President Bill Clinton
“Ma’am, you’ve almost made me feel normal today,and maybe,just maybe my 5 year old won't be afraid of me when he comes to visit today”
— Severely burned patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center upon receiving an OHT hat
“Operation Hat Trick is an incredible organization that we are tremendously proud to support. Watching OHT’s growth over the years has been inspiring,and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to their success and aid in the imperative work that they do in supporting our troops.”
— Steven D’Angelo, co-owner of ’47
“I can only say one thing and that is AWESOME … I am amazed at what you have put together for our wounded warriors. Just a wrought iron vision for you … I remember when I got wounded and I was getting a quilt that was sewn together by an old patriotic woman who belonged to a church in Indiana. I have no words to describe what it’s like to receive something that was given from an American to a wounded service member who is sitting in a hospital bed feeling helpless. It truly is beyond comprehension.”
— SEAL teammate of Nate and Mike
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