Give The Gift Of Charity To Soldiers Around The World, Love Parlour’s Soldier Girl

While most of you will be sipping on spiked apple cider and singing Christmas carols off key with family and friends, many of our uniformed service members will be across the seas in combat zones. I can personally speak from experience, being away from your loved ones during the holidays is difficult.

During my first deployment, I was 20 years old and whimpered on the phone as talking to my family as I heard them shouting over each other, sending me their holiday cheer. My base in Afghanistan was nicely decorated with wreaths, glasses of eggnog (non-alcoholic, bah humbug) and boasted the below freezing temperatures and snowcapped mountains characteristic of Christmas but it was hard to do be jolly 9,000 miles away from home.

If you think it’s tough on us veterans, our families go through the pain of separation too. Many spouses and children spend the day hoping their soldier will be around to see next year’s Christmas tree. It is times like these when support is needed and not just from the spouse or the parent of a service member, but from the everyday American citizen — yes, that means you.

When I received a box of goodies from complete strangers while serving in Afghanistan, it was actually better than the packages I received from home, because they were unexpected … and it had all the good snacks my Mom refused to send me. So this year, spread the love and wealth to a uniformed Americans and his or her family. That’s an honorable service we will most appreciate.

Here are ways you can show your appreciation during this giving time of year:

Toy Drive

Those handsome United States Marine Corps men would like to meet you, when you drop off toys to support underprivileged children in the U.S.  In NYC alone, there are over 700 drop-off sites collecting, visit their website to find locations.

Aid Military Families in Need

Many think military officers make a hefty salary, and that may be the case for some high-ranking officers, but most experience financial woes like everyone else. From deployments, wounded veterans and the death of a service member, families need help during a crisis. The National Military Family Association is an organization whose sole purpose is to support families in need through the kind donations of supporters. With the click of a button or the lick of a stamp you can spread yuletide cheer to a stressed wife or lonely child.

Operation Homefront

The Dollar Tree store chain and charity organization Operation Homefront teams up every year for an annual toy drive where they collect toys for children living on the various U.S. military bases located in America. Millions of toys were collected at nearly 4,000 stores across the country from November 1 to December 6. The drive may have ended, but you can still do your part.

Operation Shoebox

If you want to spread some cheer to a service member in the various regions of the world, check out Operation Shoebox. You can adopt a specific individual to send them items or create a generic care package for anyone with toiletries and snacks:

Real Military Charities

Before you donate to the cause however, do your research. Many companies claim to be there to support those in uniform, but the money and items are not going into the hands of those who need it most. The American Institute of Philanthropy prepared a list (inserted in “Real Military Charities”) grading 29 military-focused charity organizations so you’ll know who’s doing what.

American Red Cross

If you need still encouragement to get involved, join your favorite celebrity! The American Red Cross has received support from numerous stars to participate in their holiday giving campaign, from Nick Cannon (and Dem Babies) to Dr. Phil, Darius Rucker and (a topless, hopefully) Maroon 5.

David Lynch Foundation

Earlier this month Russell Simmons, ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons and her second husband Djimon Housou lent their support to filmmarker David Lynch’s and his Foundation’s organization’s gala. The charitable event raised $1 million grant to teach veterans how to meditate as these public servants frequently face with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder upon their return from combat.

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