Holidays: a time to spend with family and friends. You eat too much food, swap tales from the past year, and retell stories that everyone fondly remembers.
Except, many military families will spend this holiday season far from those they hold near and dear. Other troops are deployed overseas. Those folks couldn’t get home, even if they wanted to. The brave men and women overseas are missing holiday traditions more than most. They are from even from their spouses and children.
But you can help!
Use these easy tips to help military troops and families have a touch of home this holiday season.
Send a care package
Reach out to your local base, Guard or Reserve unit, or even a VFW post. All of these organizations probably know a unit who might need a little holiday cheer! They can share addresses with you, or give you some guidelines for items to include.
Not up for a DIY care package? There are many options to send some love to the troops, near or far.
Connecticut Operation Elf
Donations of new unwrapped toys for children of all ages as well as donations of gift cards for grocery and department/home goods stores, pharmacies, and gas stations help support military families throughout the year. The donation of fuel oil, snow removal, and home maintenance services are also accepted.
The USO hosts an annual holiday care package program. A great way to help make this happen is to donate to them!
Send a Gift Basket or Box
Send a gift basket or box through KOAH and our Cause Network. There are a lot to choose from! Just make sure that the basket is non-perishable and can be shipped to APO and FPO addresses.com Holiday season is fast approaching! Time to start shopping for that perfect gift. And this year you can be donating up 10% while you shop, extending the Giving Spirit which helps kids of our military heroes.
You can work with your church, community group, Girl or Boy Scout troop, and even just your friends, to send out big batches of cards to whole units. Or send personal notes to military friends you already know.
Send a Touch of Home:
Know a military family? Send them a personalized gift box with treats from home! Fill a flat rate USPS box with local snacks and treasures. Whatever your friend might be craving, try and fit it in. Stick to non-perishable foods, and maybe stay away from chocolate (it melts). But fancy holiday cake kits, regional snacks or dry drink mixes are great ideas! For liquids, stay away from carbonation and alcohol. Wrap it tightly in a ziplock bag and tape it shut to prevent accidental leaks.
The Adopt-A-Family Program
The Adopt-A-Family offers the opportunity for individuals, businesses and families to "adopt" a family from our military community who might be in need during the holiday season and beyond. The program is 100 percent confidential and the adopting family/business/individual is never given any personal information on the family in need. Additionally, no service member or employee's chain of command is ever notified of your enrollment in the program.
The sole purpose of Adopt-A-Family is to provide the most essential goods or services a family is in need of. Items we seek to provide to families include winter clothing (coats, scarves, gloves, boots), food, assistance with essential household expenses (utilities, heat) and presents for children. Adopt-A-Family is not meant to provide luxury items like game systems, electronics or jewelry. The goal is to provide for families who are suffering hardships, whether temporary or longer term, especially during the holiday season.
Who is eligible? Any currently serving member of any branch of service, or their dependent family member, is eligible to make an application for adoption. Adoptions are limited to one per household.
How to apply? Application can be made by contacting the Connecticut National Guard Service Member and Family Support Center directly, at 1-800-858-2677.
How to adopt a family? Individuals or businesses may "adopt" a family from this category by funding or purchasing items of need pre-identified by the family. The name of the family is never revealed to the adopting person or organization. Rather, a summary of the family’s demographics and wish list are provided. The applicant’s case worker ensures gifts are received in time for the holidays. If you are interested, please call the CTNG SMFSC at 1-800-858-2677.
Reach out to your local base or VFW to invite a single Soldier (or Marine, Sailor, Airman, or Coastie) to your home for the holidays.
You could also team up with your church or other community group to host a bigger meal for more service members.
If you know that a local military family will be celebrating solo, reach out and let them know that they have a place at your table, too.
Don’t Forget the Kids:
Many military kids will be missing a parent (or two) this holiday season, plus their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Often these families are on a tight budget. Military salaries are not super cushy! Check with local units both Guard/Reserve or active duty, and the VFW to see if they know of any needy military families.
You should also consider donating new, unwrapped toys to Toys for Tots. These gifts are distributed to needy children around the country, both military connected and civilian.