The holidays: Websites supporting our troops and their families

With the holidays bearing down on us, I wanted to share some of the legitimate websites that support our troops and their families. I have personal experiences with the organizations linked below and highly recommend them.

I couldn’t imagine having a son, daughter, spouse or family member deployed in the war theater. The holidays magnify the absence of loved ones, and the reality is, the families of our troops waiting here at home are struggling to make ends meet.

I try my best to support these organizations during the year, but the holidays always remind me of how lucky I am to be an American and have these brave men and women risking their lives for what we believe in. I am reminded of the sacrifices they make, day after day, and they ask for nothing from us in return.

If you give to charities during the holiday season, please consider supporting organizations that support our troops and their families. Here are some websites to consider:

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach

This organization was inspired by Lynelle Chauncey Zelnar, a friend of a mom whose son was deployed with the 173rd Airborne in Iraq. It sends care packages to soldiers abroad who have no family or families that can’t afford to send a little piece of home.

These care packages often contain basic necessities such as razors, shampoo, hand sanitizer, snacks, magazines, music CDs or DVDs, and their postage tends to be very expensive.

Another plus: It is a local organization, based in Lake Worth.

Website: forgottensoldiers.org
Facebook: Forgotten Soldiers Outreach
Twitter: @fso_USAsoldiers

Homes for Our Troops

This organization either builds new homes or retrofits existing ones for troops who come home wounded from war and need larger doorways, ramps, handicap rails and the like.

Whether it is wheelchair access or other needed customization, local contractors such as builders, painters, drywall installers, etc., donate their time to make it happen.

Your donations go to materials and other expenses needed to complete the job.

Website: homesforourtroops.org
Facebook: Homes for Our Troops
Twitter: @HomesForOurTrps

Adopt a Soldier

In 2004, my husband and I adopted two soldiers through this organization – a husband and wife. He was stationed in Afghanistan, and she was in Iraq. We stayed in contact via email and sent them care packages. They came home for Christmas leave and stayed with our family for five days.

It isn’t necessary that you have your adopted soldier stay at your home. For us, it just worked out that way. They wanted to visit Walt Disney World, and since we were so close to Orlando, we insisted they come for a visit. We exchanged Christmas tree ornaments, and we think about them every year when we put up our Christmas tree. It was a wonderful experience. We still stay in touch on Facebook.

Website: adoptaussoldier.org
Facebook: Adopt A US Soldier
Twitter: @AAUSS1

Commisary.com – Send the gift of groceries

The Defense Commissary Agency, headquartered at Fort Lee, Va., operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment

Authorized patrons purchase items at cost, plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices

Website: commissaries.com
Facebook: Defense Commissary Agency
Twitter: @TheCommissary

Let’s Say Thanks

This is a free site sponsored by Xerox Corp. Send an e-card to troops abroad, and let them know you honor their service and have them in your thoughts.

Website: letssaythanks.com

Our troops and their families have the most at stake, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice. They need our encouragement and support.

God bless our troops, and I wish them and their families the happiest of holidays. May they all come home soon.

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