In honor of Independence Day, I thought it would be nice to write about a few organizations that provide support for members of our military.
My husband and I have many friends and family members who are or have served in our nation’s military. We have a great appreciation for the sacrifices these brave men and women have chosen to make.
A few years ago at school, I organized a mass mailing of letters and pictures from the students to be sent to veterans and active members of our military on Veterans’ Day. I have been collecting more addresses each year, and it is something that I really enjoy doing. I have talked to several people who received letters, and they were both surprised and touched. A few even shed some tears. Sometimes, the students even received letters in return, which really made their day! The first year we did this, a close friend of ours came up and spent a morning with my class; they played Bingo, a math game, he taught the kids some basic commands, and gave them each a National Guard dog tag. My students absolutely loved it! And I know that even though those particular children are almost third graders now, some of them still wear the dog tags they received that day.
I say all of that to make this point: Small gestures of gratitude do not go unnoticed. We did not do anything elaborate, but the sincerity and thankfulness behind all of those letters touched the recipients’ hearts.
But this did not seem like enough for me. I mean, it could never be enough, really. So, I began by searching online for organizations who send Christmas cards to our troops. That is where I wanted to begin. But then, I realized there are so many other opportunities to help the members of our military.
I found three specific organizations that caught my eye.
The first is called Operation Gratitude. They are based in Chatsworth, California and have sent 1,784,080 care packages to service members to date! They not only send packages to deployed servicemen and women, they also send to veterans, new recruits, wounded heroes, family members, caregivers, and first responders. Their website encourages people to donate knitted/crochet hats and scarves, paracord bracelets, letters, lip balm, and many other things to include in care packages sent all over the world. I have decided that I am going to write letters on behalf of my husband and I and send them to this organization. What’s helpful is that there is an entire page based on what to include in letters. There is also a section devoted to teachers who would like to get their class involved.
Another organization I found is called Military Missions in Lexington, Kentucky. They, too, send care packages to deployed men and women. Their website provides a list of goodies for people to donate and can be placed into care packages. They put 10 cards into each care package, so I decided to buy a few packs of blank greeting cards and write short, encouraging notes in each of them. They also accept Christmas cards in October, November, and December, so when late fall comes around, this is where I will be sending my Christmas cards for troops!
The last organization I found is called Operation Shoebox. They send care packages all year round, and are based in Belleview, Florida. They take different types of donations than the first two organizations, such as ink cartridges and cell phones. They also have various types of ways to get involved, not just sending things to their office and having them package it up and send it out. The section that fascinated me the most is the Troops for Teachers portion. They pair an individual deployed member of the military with a teacher and classroom. I need to go through administration at our school, but this is a program I am interested in getting my students involved with. It will give me a good opportunity to teach my kids some ways to spread love to others, possibly when they need it most.
I ask that you take some time and explore these organizations’ websites. I have provided links to them in this post. The men and women who choose to serve our great nation deserve our thanks and support! It would mean so much to the members of our military if just a few more people gave just a few letters, cards, or donations to organizations such as these.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!