Guest post from Misty Leask
This time of the year we tend to stop and think of people we often don’t think of . . . except for during the holidays or on special occasions.
One group of people this tends to happen to is dear to my heart, practically in my blood.
They are the military service men and women of the United States of America.
As a Navy Brat, I know firsthand how hard their jobs are, how much they AND their families sacrifice, and how little they are appreciated.
So today, I’m going to share with y’all some ideas on how you and your family can reach out to some of our service members this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Though I hope and pray that you’ll continue to use them throughout the year.
To start off with I’m going to share a couple DO NOT’s with you:
- Once upon a time you could send letters via the address for “The Wounded Soldier”, but due to hate mail any such letters are now simply tossed in the trash. So please, don’t send those for they won’t make it into a service members hands.
- Scams are in abundance among “military charities” and many will appear to be legitimate. This makes it very difficult to donate to our military.
There are a few charities that I recommend that you can donate money towards, and it will benefit our military service members.
- The U.S.O. whose mission is “To lift the spirits of our troops and their families.
- Operation Homefront ~ “Financial, food assistance, repairs . . . help to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.”
- Fisher House ~ “Provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.”
- Operation Heal Our Patriots ~ “Gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment.”
There are other ways you can reach out that will greatly touch our service member’s hearts as well.
Some additional ideas include:
- Stopping to say thank you for protecting and providing freedom when you see a service member in uniform. (Yes, it might make you nervous, but most likely you’ll make their day.)
- Contact your local VA hospital and see if they allow visitors. Stop by to encourage and thank them. Better yet! Sign up to become a volunteer at your local VA Hospital. They even have a student volunteer program which can aid in college medical studies prep!
- Hosting a single service member or a group of them for Thanksgiving dinner. (You could easily do this at your church on a much larger scale too!)
- Sending letters or care packages to service members deployed. Make sure you allow your kiddos to color them pictures too! (Be sure not to send cookies or chocolate, and if snacks aren’t sealed in plastic place them in a sealed Ziploc prior to sending the package.)
For these ideas you will need to reach out to either friends or family who personally know service members to invite or send mail to.
If you are unable to locate a service member through family or friends, then you can contact your local Fleet & Family Service Center to find out if they have a similar program in place. If they do not have any such program in place, suggest the idea and see if they are willing to help get one started. Please keep in mind that there are some rules they cannot break, and they may have some requests of you.
A couple things they cannot do, and/or might request of you are:
- For mailing packages they will not be able to give you addresses, and shipping isn’t free. So should you be interested in sending good from home, the good ol’ US of A, when mentioning this idea to the Fleet & Family Representative let them know that you are willing to gather the items, the USPS Military Priority Boxes and the money to cover all of the shipping costs (approx. $13/box up to 75 lbs.) if they would be willing to send the goodies to a deployed service member(s)?
- I wouldn’t be surprised if they required you to leave any thank you notes or coloring sheets open for them to see, and/or ask that you not tape up the boxes so they can ensure everything inside is safe.
I’m quite sure there are many ideas that I did not cover in regards to showing appreciation to our military service members, but I hope I encouraged you to reach out and make a difference in their lives.
Never forget that their service to our country makes a difference in our lives each and every day . . . all year long.
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