Thank the Troops This Holiday Season By Giving Back to Them

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There is probably no other holiday season that evokes a desire to be home, surrounded by family and friends more than the end-of-the-year holidays. 

For many American soldiers who are stationed far away, they can only dream about going home.  Not only do they experience a sense of longing for family and friends, but they also miss the creature comforts of home as well as the holiday rituals and celebrations.

American service men and women leave their families to protect and defend our rights, and they risk death doing their jobs.  The holidays are a perfect time to give back and tell the troops how much they are appreciated by doing something kind for them this holiday season.

There are many ways you can do this.

You can choose to simply make a donation, to send a card, or to make a longer term commitment to a troop member.  There are even organizations that let you donate to the needy citizens of the country where the troop member is stationed.

Here are Some Organizations to Consider Donating to and Give Thanks to Our Troops:

Any Soldier

The Any Soldier program is designed for people to send cards, letters and small gifts to our troops.  As of February, 2012, troops overseas, not just those in war zones, can be recipients of your gifts.  Simply click on the service branch you would like to send to, and then choose from a long list of troop members’ names.  They each write a little blurb saying what they most need.

Any Soldier asks that you send cards, letters and gifts all year long, not just at the holidays.  During the holidays, send small gifts as larger gifts are too cumbersome for the soldiers.  Christmas cards and letters only are welcome.

A Million Thanks

A Million Thanks organization seeks to get letters and cards into the hands of not only active troop members, but also reservists and veterans.

They ask that you not send gifts.

Instead, focus on sending cards, letters and emails.  If your young children want to draw pictures for the troops, that is welcomed, but make sure to also include a letter with the picture.

Homefront Hugs

The organization Homefront Hugs seeks to make a personal connection between you and the soldier you work with.

To join, simply fill out a brief application.  Once it is submitted and you get your soldier’s name, you are expected to send out a care package and a letter within one week.  Then, you should send out a small package and letter every two weeks.  (Care packages can be small such as a magazine and a pack of gum.)

Homefront Hugs appreciates volunteers making a 6 month commitment.

Homefront Hugs has many programs to choose from, and they also have programs for the soldier’s family.  Instead of adopting a soldier, you can choose to adopt his or her family and send one letter and care package a month.  Another program includes sending a stuffed stocking for a deployed soldier’s child to enjoy at Christmas.  Sometimes sponsoring the family instead of the soldier can put the soldier’s mind at ease so he can focus on his job.

USO Care Packages

If you would like to have less of a commitment and don’t have a lot of time to spare, you may want to consider sponsoring a USO care package.

For every $25 donation you make, the USO will send a care package worth $75 to a soldier containing both things he or she wants and needs.

Operation Give

Operation Give helps soldiers help citizens in the countries where they are stationed.  You can donate money, toys, clothing in good condition, school supplies, art supplies, baby care items, personal care items, and everyday medical items.  The troops will hand these items out to the needy that they meet every day in the country in which they are stationed.

Cell Phones for Soldiers

This organization allows you to donate your unwanted cell phones.  These phones get recycled and in turn the organization donates a pre-paid calling card to a soldier overseas so they he can call home.  You can also donate money for calling cards as well.  Not only are you helping a soldier stay in touch with family but you are helping to keep cell phones out of landfills.  Win-win.

Contact Cell Phones for Soldiers for more information.  Thanks to Ryan Guina of The Military Wallet for suggesting this organization.

Finally

These are just a few of the many organizations that support our troops.

While the idea to send a card or gift to the troops may be sparked during the holiday season, you can help the troops the most by making a commitment to send them notes and gifts throughout the year, not just the holidays.

While it is important for individuals to say thank you, you can have even more of an impact if you can get your local organization such as your school or local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop involved.  Together, we can all thank the troops.

Have you sent a gift to the troops before?  What was your experience?

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Published or updated December 10, 2012.

Comments

  1. I haven’t specifically sent a gift to our troops, but I probably should. They do so much for our country (most of which we don’t realize) and the sacrifices they make are more than most of us would be willing to do. My father in-law is a colonel in the air force; so we do have a soft spot for those military men and women (despite our lack of giving). We do however support “Homes for our Troops.”

  2. Christian L. says:

    Melissa,
    Thank you for honoring service members and vets. My coworkers and I have the opportunity to thank them quite a bit in my company. I also feel honored that my company has a non-profit, Veterans United Foundation, that is employee-funded. Employee contributions is

    Glad you reached out to our military members, Melissa. Thank you.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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