When you’re a military family, money can be tight. Deployments and PCS moves can wreck a budget. When money is tight, facing the Christmas season can be depressing. Thankfully, there are many charities and military nonprofits who offer help to military families so that their holiday season can be merry and bright. You may be able to find assistance in providing gifts or a special holiday meal.
While I’ve listed specific, large groups here, please keep in mind that there are literally thousands of small, local programs. If you need help, please reach out to:
- Your command’s family readiness group
- Your installation’s family service center (Airman and Family Readiness Center, Army Community Services, Fleet and Family Service Center, or Marine Corps Community Center)
- Your installation chapel
- The local Red Cross
- The local USO
- The local Armed Services YMCA.
In addition, your local civilian community may have programs through churches, food banks, and the local government.
It may be hard to ask for help, but people are happy to give if they know that you are appreciative. Don’t delay in making these phone calls, as programs are organized in advance and some have a limit to how many people they can help.
Full Circle Home
Full Circle Home is a non-profit with the motto, “Supporting the women, who are supporting the troops, who are supporting us here at home.” Full Circle Home allows deployed service members to request that a goodie box be sent to their wife, mother, girlfriend, or other special woman. This generous program is available at Christmas and Mother’s Day. Sign up now to send a Christmas box.
Operation Holiday Joy
The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), in conjunction with Woman’s Day Magazine, offers Operation Holiday Joy to help bring holiday meals and gifts to military families. The program varies by location and is tailored to the community's needs. Contact your local ASYMCA branch for more details.
Operation Homefront offers two holiday programs at major military installations around the country: Holiday Toys for Military Kids, and Holiday Meals for Military. To participate in either program, you must register with Operation Homefront and sign up for the locally-run events. More information can be found by joining your local Operation Homefront Facebook page or by checking out their events calendar http://www.operationhomefront.net/event/list .
Operation Ride Home
Organized through the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) and funded by a generous donation by Jack Daniels, Operation Ride Home assists junior service members (or the family of deployed junior service members) with the cost of eligible travel to see family during the holiday season. Application information can be obtained from local ASYMCA locations.
Soldiers’ Angels sponsors a Holiday Adopt-A-Family program. E1-E6 families of deployed, wounded or ill servicemembers may sign up to be adopted by a donor. The family must have demonstrated financial need. The deadline for consideration is 1 December 2014.
Toys for Tots
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys 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. The online registration form will help you locate your local coordinator.
Trees for Troops
Tree for Troops, sponsored by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, offers free Christmas trees for military families. Trees are distributed at military installations throughout the United States. The full list of dates and locations should be available soon.
Don’t let financial stress take the joy out of your holiday season. There are many people who want to help. Reach out and get the help you need now.
And, of course, say, “thank you!”