Bringing Christmas Cheer to Soldiers and Their Families
Traditionally a time of joy, Christmas is a heavy time for those who have family members deployed in the military.
My family has been touched with this dilemma as well; my friend’s brother has twice been deployed during the holidays, and it made celebrating Christmas hard for him and his loved ones.
In my research, I’ve come across many foundations supporting this phenomenon; legitimate, warmhearted souls dedicated on making the Christmas season easier for families who have been affected by the war.
Founded in 2008, Operation Holiday Stockings sends holiday stockings filled with holiday treats to soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was started by Sue Rambin after her son, Lt. Rambin, sent her an email asking for 230 stockings and other Christmas decorations to fill their area. Sue recruited friends and family and from there, Operation Holiday Stockings has continued. Donators can knit stockings, or send money for stocking stuffers and to cover the cost of shipment.
Operation Christmas Tree
Started when a family member of one of the founding members was deployed to Iraq during the holidays, Operation Christmas Tree has now ballooned to sending 1800 trees per year. A mere $25 donation can a tree and ornaments to a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, making those deployed feel a bit more holiday cheer. Even those soldiers recuperating in the Walter Reed Military Hospital are sent Christmas trees. This year, all 1800 trees have been donated,
with donations still coming in. Rest assured, next year I’m donating early.
Christmas is the season for cold. As it gets colder and colder overseas, the Warmth for Warriors sends handmade wool hats for our soldiers to keep them warm in these winter months. Instructions are available on their website on how to make these woolly hats, and with a $5 donation, your name can be labeled on these hats as a tag to send the soldiers. Monetary donations are also accepted by the all- volunteer, nonprofit organization. Operating all year, the Warmth for Warriors sends hats all year long to those in active duty, or those in medical units recuperating from injuries and illnesses.
Skip Cares, or Special Kindness in Packages Organization, was founded in 2006 in Massachusetts. It provides care packages for all military personnel deployed in service overseas. These care packages are all enclosed with personal messages of support from each member of the organization – from the directors to the volunteers. This organization has also recently launched a Cuzzie Cares project, which send care packages to the children of soldiers.
Not purely for the holidays, but caring all the same, this foundation seeks to prepare educational attainment for the children and families of fallen soldiers of the Special Forces. This organization started in 1980 as the Bull Simon Fund, the legendary Green Beret who risked his life performing special missions for the military. This foundation seeks to provide college education to any child who has lost a parent in battle. One of the older military support foundations, this foundation has provided college education for 160 children of fallen special operations soldiers.
An organization that has been around since 2003, this organization has sent over 711,000 pounds of care packages to our troops overseas. They have adopted 200 units of soldiers deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflict nations – sending care packages every month until the units are sent back home.
Goods consist mainly of food, entertainment, and batteries as these are requested most by the troops. Anyone can take monetary (with a tax deduction to boot) or goods donation. Mostly, Operation Care and Comfort seeks support for their shipping costs, as they incur more than $1 per pound shipped. An organization based in California, it has drop-off stations all around the state to accept donations of any kind.
The Christmas season should be a time of happiness for everyone, even for our troops abroad. With a little effort (and not a bit of hassle), we can all do our part to make their Christmas all little more merry. This season, I hope you decide to help in someway – it’s a gift they will surely appreciate.