Getting, giving help or the holidays

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Getting, giving help or the holidays

by: Kim Suchek | .
. | .
published: December 09, 2013

Hello military community,

As the holiday season approaches, non-profit organizations are seeing an increase this year in the number of phone calls and emails from military families seeking financial assistance. Many families are unemployed, tight on a budget, have a deployed service member, a wounded veteran, or in a situation and need a helping hand.

Military budgets, which are often already stretched to their limits, do not contain a lot of extra money to pay the bills let alone purchase Christmas gifts. Especially if you are a National Guard or Reserve military family (this I know, we are Guard). To help thank military families for the sacrifices made year-round, many organizations offer programs to help make Christmas possible and hopefully ease some stress and put smiles on military children faces.

It is not easy for a military family to ask for financial assistance or even a helping hand. If you find yourself or a family you know in need this holiday season, here is a list of resources. Remember to check the eligibility requirements. Some organizations may have funding to provide assistance to a broad definition of military family; others may only have funds for deployed military families, wounded, ill, or injured military families, or veterans. Remember, don’t wait till the last minute as they pair people together early in the month.

To help, here are some programs and options available to military families and how people can assist.

Adopt-a-Family: Numerous organizations offer adopt-a-family programs. Military families who can show proof of need submit their wish lists to the organization and donors adopt the families by purchasing items from their wish lists for Christmas. Because of the popularity of adopt-a-family programs, you must fill out an application months before Christmas in order to get on the list. Spaces fill up fast.

Full Circle Home: This gives deployed servicemen a chance to send a gift box to their wives back home. Gift boxes contain pampering items, such as lotions, bubble baths and spa socks with a handwritten note from the serviceman. www.fullcirclehome.org

Heroes at Home: This program through Sears allows military families to apply for a Sears gift card for holiday shopping. Registration opens late August and closes once 20,000 applications are received. A select amount of registrants will be chosen to receive the gift cards, which vary based on the amount of donations received. sears.com/heroesathome.

Military Installation Support: The family centers at military installations offer assistance in many forms during the holidays. Contact the local installation for how you can help or receive assistance.

Operation Holiday Joy: 100% of your donation goes to food and toys this holiday season and you can designate your donation to a specific program.

Operation Homefront: offers many programs for military families throughout the year, and Christmas is no exception. It partners with Dollar Tree to provide toys for Military children. To receive a gift, you must register for your local Operation Homefront or sign up nationally if you don’t have one. If your family lacks the funds for a holiday meal, you can also attend one of the organizations’ holiday meal. www.operationhomefront.net

Red Cross: This provides many military family services including but not limited to financial assistance and deployment services.

Soldiers’ Angels: Lower enlisted families can sign up to receive a $50-$100 gift card to help pay for a holiday meal and gifts for children ages 15 and under. Families must sign up for the program by December 15 and are matched with donors from around the United States. soldiersangels.org

Toys for Tots: The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The program is for all children, including military kids. www.toysfortots.org

Thank Military Families: This sponsors an annual adopt-a-family program. Preference is given to families of deployed troops. Families are adopted by sponsors who send gifts or gift cards directly to them. Those who are not adopted may receive gift cards. www.thankmilitaryfamilies.com

USO: Local USO offices provide a variety of holiday assistance programs including holiday dinners, events with Santa, toy and food drives and more. Contact your local USO office.

Whether your service member is deployed or lucky enough to be home for the holidays, take advantage of the Christmas programs for military families to help you enjoy your holidays. Staying connected with your command or unit’s Family Readiness Group can be a way to find out about local programs that offer gifts and meals for military families to help make your holiday even more special.

If you have further question or do not see a specific program you are looking for, contact me and I would be happy to assist.

Blessings from my family to yours,

Kim Suchek

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at Kim@MilitaryResourceBooks.com and visit my website at MilitaryResourceBooks.com for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.

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