Monday, December 06, 2004

Some Ways to Support Our Troops

This information isn't new, but I thought I'd bring these links together in one post. There are so many good organizations, many of them started and run by dedicated volunteers, and this is not an exhaustive list, merely a place to get started.

Supporting our troops does not have to be an expensive proposition! A number of sites help you send a letter or an email, which will be very much appreciated, but require little more than your time or the cost of a card or stamp. Care packages, a real morale booster, vary in cost, depending on the price and weight (for postage) of what you choose to send, so these can be made to fit any budget. Some organizations would appreciate donations of money for their particular projects. With so many options, please look through the list, click on the links and check out their websites, before you decide the best way you can support those serving our country.

This list is in no particular order, except I will start with a personal favorite, because my husband served as a Marine.

1. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund collects donations of money to help injured Marines and their families with unanticipated expenses, such as lodging, food, and childcare. This is an all-volunteer effort, and your donations are tax-deductable.

2. The Wounded Warrior Project collects donations of money to provide backpacks filled with comfort items to the injured at Walter Reed Medical Center. You can read a full description on their website. Donate a filled backpack for $99.00, and write a message to go with it, but I imagine they will appreciate donations of whatever amount you can afford.

3. Operation AirConditioner is a great group, started by the mother of a soldier who served in Iraq, and it does several things:
a.) There is an address on the left side of their page where you can send thank-you notes and cards for hospitalized soldiers. I write a few notes whenever I have time, and then mail them, in a large manila envelope, whenever I have about 20 or so.
b.) They will help you adopt a soldier, by sending you the name and address of an actual soldier (they chose for you) who you can write and send care packages to. I have adopted two different soldiers through this site.
c.) They collect donations of money to send air conditioners, heaters, socks, gloves and boots to our soldiers.

4. Any Soldier, Inc. is another group, started by an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, who served in Iraq. They will help you adopt someone to write to and send packages to, and have Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine contacts, serving over 41,000 soldiers. You are given a choice of over 700 contact persons and then write to one, at their address, adding "ATTN: Any Soldier". They will then pass your letter along to "any soldier" in the unit who don't get much or any mail, and that person may write back to you. The site also provides a way to give (tax-deductable) donations of money on their site.

5. Treat Any Soldier is allied to the Any Soldier, Inc. group, above, but is also separate. It provides an easy way to send "Care Packages" to an anonymous "any soldier" or to your personal soldier, if you have a specific name and address. The prices range from $16.95 to $49.95. Check this website for ideas, even if you want to buy and send your own packages. I do prefer to send my own packages, but I think this is a pretty fair deal, and the postage costs are clearly specified for each package before you order.

6. My Soldier will help you adopt soldier (click on "My Soldier info" on the top right on this website). It was started by a Manhattanville College student who served in Iraq, but this program has the full support of Manhattanville College behind it. This program will they assign you a contact (provided by Operation Military Pride) in a unit, whereas Any Soldier, Inc. (above) allows you to pick your own unit or branch of service, I think. This program also sends you a red rubber bracelet to wear, and a special baseball cap to send to your soldier, along with your first letter. This group also accepts donations of money.

7. Spirit of America is a very great organization! It requests donations of money for our troops to help them finance projects which promote goodwill and help the Iraqi people. The importance of this cannot be underestimated!!! PLEASE, please look at their website and see the wonderful things they are doing, then contribute what you can.

8. The USO is a and well-known group which does many things for our troops. If you log on to their website you can read about their many programs to help and entertain our troops overseas, and support their families at home. You can donate money, help with blood drives, volunteer in your own community, donate phone cards to our troops, and get lots of other information. Plus, any donations are tax-deductable.

9. Operation Dear Abby is a site where you can send a holiday greeting or thank-you message to "any member" of the five Service Branches: Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Army, or Air Force.

10. To Our Soldiers is a site where you can send an email to any and all of our troops (any soldier) or to a specific individual or unit, I think. Check out the site for details

11. A Million Thanks, a wonderful site, began with an idea by Shauna Fleming, a 15-year-old student, and is sponsored by Lutheran High School in Orange, CA. They collect letters and emails of thanks and support for our troops, and have sent more than one million at this time! They also collect used cd's to send to our troops, and donations of money to help wih their projects. Get out the Kleenex before you click on the two "Theme Songs" (with videos!) on this site.

12. Soldier's Angels was started by a mother whose son served in Iraq. This site will help you adopt a deployed or wounded soldier. They also request money donations, and have many other ways and projects to help our troops.

13. Instapundit has a great list, including some of the same groups I mention here, but which has others as well. Please check his list, too.

I will try to update this, from time to time, but this should give you plenty of places to check out and some very good ways to make a difference. Please, begin now to support our troops!