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Today I am sharing something super amazing with you all today! With it being the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to give back to others who need it. Being a military spouse and being raised in a family that fully supports our military, I am a huge supporter of doing everything I can for our servicemen and women as well as their families. No matter what your budget or how much time you have in your busy holiday schedule, there’s plenty you can do to help out. Here are 5 easy ways you can get involved this holiday season!
1. Pay it forward
This can be something as simple as paying for a service member’s coffee. I remember when we lived on base in North Carolina, Zack worked Thanksgiving my first year there. It was my first year celebrating the holidays away from family and I admit, I was pretty crushed that morning. I woke up to an empty home and spent a good majority of the day by myself until he got off work that afternoon. Later that morning, I decided to give Zack a call and see if any of the guys needed or wanted some coffee. I figured it would be good to get out of the house and they always loved when I did that type of thing for them. So I drove to our nearest Dunkin Donuts and ordered way too many coffees, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches. I was that person holding up the drive-thru.
Waiting in line, I was finally regaining composure and feeling a little better about the day. Then I arrived at the counter to find out the car in front of me had paid for my ENTIRE order. I couldn’t even tell you how much that order cost, but I know it wasn’t cheap. The woman had seen the base decal on my windshield and wanted to pay it forward. I instantly broke down crying at the drive-thru. No joke. I had never had someone do that for me. And that woman had no idea how much it meant to me either. So I paid it forward and paid for the car behind me. One small act of kindness can go a long way!
2. Make a donation.
There are so many military organizations that are in need of donations. A simple Google search will give you a whole list of amazing organizations that need assistance or even volunteers! If you don’t have the money to donate, then take an afternoon off and donate your time. Any bit helps! The Fisher House is a great example of an amazing organization in need of assistance. To learn more and make a donation, check out their donations page (more information on this organization below).
3. Adopt a family in need
There are lots of programs out there that allow you to “adopt” a family for a holiday (actually there are programs that allow you adopt kids and families for many occasions throughout the year!). These are families that are struggling financially and are unable to provide their family with a “normal” holiday celebration. Some of these families can’t even afford basic essentials like winter clothing. You’ll receive the information on the family as well as the ages of all the children inside the home and their wish lists. From there, you can purchase things off their wish list and send them to the families. Through a program like this, you’re providing a family with a real holiday celebration that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
4. Send letters to our troops
I remember doing this a lot in school every year and I’ve sent cards to service members through my workplaces as well. Some service members don’t receive cards and care packages. It’s such a quick, simple way to show that you’re thinking of them and appreciate everything they’re doing for our country. This is also a great way to get kids involved too! If they can’t write quite yet, then they can draw something!
5. Send a care package
Service members and their families love receiving care packages. Especially this time of year. It’s such a great way to give back to our military. Care packages are super simple to put together and can greatly vary depending on your level of creativity.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
Pretty basic. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- A box. USPS has flat rate shipping boxes that a lot of people choose to use! Thanks to our recent move, I happened to have a ton of boxes in our home already. The size of the box is completely up to you and will vary depending on how much or what it is that you’re sending.
- Gifts. This is going to greatly vary depending on who you’re sending the package to. If you know the service member personally, then you’d be better able to customize the package to fit their needs. If you do not have a connection to the service member then you’ll probably stick to the basics. I’ll get more into detail here later.
- Tissue paper and/or wrapping paper. This is completely your choice! Whatever you feel you need to wrap gifts or make the inside of the box look its best.
- A card. Or a letter. Whichever you prefer!
- Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape 3 Pack Caddie. This is best used for wrapping the gifts within the box, or even the box itself if you’re delivering the package yourself.
- Scotch® Moving and Storage Tape. This is perfect for taping up the box properly! You wouldn’t want it coming apart in the shipping process.
Step 2: Choose your gifts.
Like I mentioned above, the gifts you choose will vary depending on who you’re sending it to and where you’re sending it. If you’re sending a package to a deployed service member then here are some ideas of what you can send them:
- Snacks! – candy, gum, protein bars, chips, pretzels, etc. AVOID chocolate and anything else that can melt or go bad from point A to point B.
- Books and other reading materials.
- Hand warmers (yes, even in Afghanistan, they need hand warmers!).
- Toiletries and personal care items – toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, shampoo, tissues, shaving lotion, eye drops, lip balm, pain relievers, lotions, feminine hygiene products for the women, foot powders, etc.
- Clothing – cotton socks, cotton underwear, fingerless gloves, goggle-style sunglasses, etc.
- Batteries! Typically size AA and D are needed the most.
- Electronics – CD player, CDs, DVDs, portable DVD player, handheld games.
- Games – puzzles, word searches, foam footballs and basketballs, tacky sacks, playing cards, frisbees.
- Phone cards.
- Current photos if you’re sending to a loved one.
There are so many great things that you can send them that they’d be more than happy to receive. Basic everyday items that you wouldn’t even think would be exciting are probably the items they’re wanting the most. If you’re unsure about something you want to send, then ask someone!
Step 3: Start decorating!
If you are hand delivering a package to a loved one (to someone who’s either not deployed or is about to deploy) then feel free to wrap the outside of the package to give it more of a holiday feel! If you’re sending overseas then the outside needs to be bare. Many people choose to decorate the inside of the box, instead! You can get as creative as you want here! For my personal care package, I will actually be delivering it personally so I’ll be wrapping the entire box as a whole as well as wrapping its contents.
Whenever I’m doing a home project like this or wrapping gifts, I always choose Scotch® Brand. For this tutorial I’m using Scotch® Moving and Storage Tape to tape up the outside of the box and then using the Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape 3 Pack Caddie to decorate and wrap the inside. You can save with 50% bonus and Rollback if you stock up on Scotch® Brand wrapping products early! Who doesn’t like to save?! That’s why I ran to my nearest Walmart location and stocked up before the holiday season is in full swing. And this year, Scotch® Brand is donating $200,000 to Fisher House this holiday season!
For those of you who don’t know what the Fisher House is, it’s an amazing charity that provides a network of comfort homes to the military and their families. They can stay in these homes at no cost to them while a loved one is receiving medical treatment. It’s a great charity that helps service members and their families all across the country. If you too would like to donate to the Fisher House this holiday season, you can do so by checking out their donations page.
Step 4: Close up and send!
Be sure that you have the correct address for your service member and then mail way! Typically if you’re a little more confused on how to send a package overseas the USPS can help you out when you arrive to show you how to write it all out properly. And be sure to get the tracking info on the package as well! That way you can make sure your package is arriving safe and sound.