Christmas can be a beautiful but extremely difficult time of year for many veterans, active military, and their families. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” can feel like a cruel joke for some who are experiencing loneliness, sadness, financial difficulties, PTSD or separation from their families and friends.
We wanted to share some resources that can help take the financial burden off military families during the Christmas season. Whether you need assistance or want to volunteer and give back, you’ll find helpful ideas below. Almost all of the links provide options for assistance AND giving. (Deadlines for the resources vary by state, county, and city.)
- Trees for Troops– if your family is in need of a Christmas Tree, check out https://www.christmasspiritfoundation.org/t4t-base-deliveries to find the bases that will have trees available for pickup.
*Christmas Gift Assistance/Sponsor or Adopt a Military family
- Toys for Tots– New toys are collected from Oct-Dec each year and donated in early December to those who need them for their children. https://www.toysfortots.org/request_toys/Default.aspx
- Soldier’s Angels Adopt-A-Family– Registration is open through December 7, 2020, so hurry on this one! Toys and grocery gift cards are given to families to show love and appreciation for their service. https://soldiersangels.org/programs/family-support/adopt-a-family/
- Spirit of Sharing– This program provides gift and toys, commissary cards and more to military families. https://www.spiritofsharing.org/how-to-get-help/
- Operation Homefront– This organization teams up with local sponsors to provide holiday meals for military families. Visit https://operationhomefront.org/events/ to see the cities hosting meals. Check out their Facebook page to find out when and where toys are being donated. https://www.facebook.com/pg/OperationHomefront/about/?ref=page_internal
- Operation Christmas Spirit– This program provides active duty military families with gifts, gift cards, grocery assistance, gas, and more for the holiday season. https://www.operationhelpahero.org/operation-christmas-spirit.html You can adopt a military family for Christmas here: https://www.operationhelpahero.org/operation-christmas-spirit-family-adoption.html
- Elks National Veterans Service Commission– This site provides a helpful guide for those who would like to adopt a veteran to spend time with, send cards, make phone calls, send gifts, etc. They recommend reaching out to your local veteran hospitals, VA homes, care centers or nursing homes to find a veteran who may not have family nearby and needs someone in their life. Human contact and care is huge! https://www.elks.org/vets/adoptaveteran.cfm
- Find VA locations: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp
- Volunteer for the VA: https://www.volunteer.va.gov/
- Armed Services YMCA– 100% of the donations they receive goes to providing food and gifts for military families. Find the Armed Services YMCA nearest to you to find out what they may be providing: https://www.asymca.org/locations / Donation site: https://www.asymca.org/donate-operation-holiday-joy
- Military Installations– Some Military Installations offer holiday assistance for families in need. You can contact the closest installation to get information on what they provide: https://installations.militaryonesource.mil/
- Red Cross– Whether you need assistance or want to help, contact your local Red Cross. This page lists the main services for veterans: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/military-families/services-for-veterans.html. To find your local Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter.html
- Salvation Army– There are multiple outreach programs at the Salvation Army, and many ways to help with time or monetary donations. Here is the link for their “Brighten The Holidays/Rescue Christmas” program: https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/brighten-the-holidays/.
- To search for your local Salvation Army, visit: https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/plugins/gdosCenterSearch?start=1
*Holiday Help: Part 2 will feature resources focused on helping veterans and active military with many of the emotional and mental struggles that they may face during the holiday season.