Serving Those Who Serve Us
Keenan Crow 12.28.19
The Holidays Season traditionally is a time for families and friends to come together. It is also a time to reflect on the past twelve months and express hopes for the coming year. Thankfully there are several organizations that remember those that are unable to join their family over the holidays because they are serving our country and protecting our families while away from their own.
Of course, most of these organizations can only operate with the assistance of volunteers and donations. Below is a short list of some of the more active groups that support our active servicemen and servicewomen when they are away from home during the holidays.
A non profit that operates in cooperation with private businesses to send care packages all year. During the Holiday season they magnify their efforts through Operation S.E.N.D. Christmas because serving far from home during this traditionally home centered home is that much more difficult for those in uniform. This is done through volunteers accessing a list of care package suggestions and getting them into the field in time for Christmas. An important point is that the Operation also focuses on veterans as well.
Recognizes not only the sacrifices of our service members away from home but also those left at home. For Christmas and Mother’s Day, Full Circle helps service members send gifts home, maintaining and strengthening the bonds to those for which they serve.
Also enlists the aid of volunteers to get gifts or stocking out in time for the holidays. Volunteers may also “adopt” an eligible service family, or family member, in the name of a service member to help make sure their holiday season is complete by providing children gifts or gift cards to ensure a proper holiday meal.
Similarly helps “adopt” family members of active service members helping them endure the challenges of deployment. Wish list fulfillment, gift cards, crafts and holiday parties are some of the ways Help a Hero link volunteers with those who have volunteered to enlist, along with their families, through this season.
Coordinates the support of businesses, community groups, schools, churches and individuals to prepare packages for the troops for every holiday, but of course especially during the year-end holidays when separation from home is that much more poignant.
Through their social media, PR has declared the goal of not only providing a decorated lunch bag, candy, ornaments and hand written notes of appreciation to military members travelling through airports during this season (as well as other holidays), but also to those Air Force personnel who keep the troops moving and to injured service members who are recovering in transition barracks all over the world.
For those who have a penchant for crafts, OS offers patterns and a means to transport homemade items such as socks and quilts, and of course stockings for Christmas to our servicemen around the world.
The current hotspots for our active duty service members offer precious little in the way of Christmas trees, that is where Trees for Troops comes in. TFT makes it possible for these units to gather around a real Christmas tree, fresh and express shipped from the US to the other side of the Earth. TFT also offers free trees to family members at home.
Offers a link for volunteers to donate directly to a service member’s family where 100% of the donation is sent directly to the recipient.
Since 2014 the Red Cross has taken on the mantle to get holiday letters to the troops since the national post office box for Holiday Mail for Heroes was discontinued. This is an important connection between our troops and those back home.
A general year round service where a service member can have a “penpal”. The one-on-one experience helps maintain that home front connection, and obviously becomes a n increasingly important connection during the holidays.
While several of the organizations allows the taking of initiative from the comfort of home, individuals can go ahead and directly correspond with service members over seas. There are different ways to do this. Details on how to address letters and packages, as well as dates to post to ensure timely delivery for the holidays can be found here.
The Military Postal Service Agency also posts deadlines for getting the packages out on time. When taking the initiative individually, it is important to keep in mind some details that may not otherwise be obvious when sending within the US. Some countries (Saudi Arabia most notably) have laws prohibiting the display of Christian symbols. This must be considered for both the cards and the envelopes themselves as they may be stopped upon entering the country. When attempting to make contact with a service member overseas, the most important point is to actually make contact, rather than run the risk of one of our heroes missing out on a little touch of home.
Whether organized or an individual effort, each of us has a patriotic obligation to support a service member who protects us. The Holidays are an important time to reconnect (or even just connect). Fortunately, there are organizations and technology to make that happen, even with our men and women in uniform on the other side of the world. In a a sense, every one of us can be a Santa to our troops and their families at home.