“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf
Well, that may be true (who am I to question on of Santa’s elves?) but today I’m sharing 5 ways that you can spread cheer (Christmas and year-round cheer) to the pillars of our nation…our United States veterans and active-duty military members.
Although I love Christmas, it is a teeny bit early for me to be decorating for Christmas and singing the old familiar carols. (I love Thanksgiving too, and it makes me sad how we often skip over it.)
However, this special project has a deadline.
If you are working through The Ultimate Autumn Bucket List, you will also find some helpful information to help you check #60 – “Send a Care Package to Our Troops” off the list.
Please note that many of these organizations have a December 1st or 5th deadline for Christmas/holiday cards. However, you’ve still got time, and if you do miss the deadline, you can still send a handwritten letter letting the troops know how much you appreciate their dedication, their patriotism, sacrifices and valor.
I encourage you to visit the websites for each of the organizations below to ensure you are following their specific protocols for participating in their letter/card campaigns.
1. A Million Thanks
Deadline For Christmas Cards: December 1, 2021
However they also send cards year-round.
Important note: “A Million Thanks does NOT accept commercial, store-bought greeting cards with pre-printed messages inside. All purchased cards must be blank on the inside and the space should be filled with a handwritten message of support and appreciation.”
You might want to consider including a donation to A Million Thanks. “We suggest $1 per letter, which helps out tremendously with the increasing cost of postage overseas. We do not require a donation to send your letters, but it is truly appreciated and helpful.”
A Million Thanks, Inc. (AMT) is a national non-profit organization founded in 2004 with the goal of sending 1 million letters of appreciation to U.S. service members stationed overseas. After surpassing that goal in just 6 months, AMT has gone on to send over 9 million cards and letters to U.S. military personnel around the world.
A Million Thanks also stipulates that any store-bought cards have no pre-printed messages inside, only your hand-written message of support.
Get creative and include drawings or photos but refrain from including food or anything not securely attached to the card, like confetti or glitter.
2. Military Missions, Inc.
Try to get Christmas cards to them in early December.
They also have a cool Adopt A Hero program for the holidays. For more details visit: https://militarymissions.org/adoptahero/
Military Missions, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to deliver care packages and thank-you letters to U.S. soldiers deployed around the world. Each care package contains between 10 and 15 thank-you cards or letters, making them one of the most critical and in-demand pieces of the package. While cards are accepted year-round (writers are encouraged not to date their letters as they’ll be sent throughout the year), holiday cards and letters are also accepted in the months of October, November and December.
3. Operation Christmas Cards For Our Troops
Deadline: December 5, 2021
“The deadline for all cards to be in our office is December 5, 2021. Please do not mail any cards past this deadline. Our volunteers need time to sort, box, and mail the cards to various bases around the world in time for Christmas. We were receiving cards well after Christmas last year, please understand that it takes weeks for the mail service to ship the cards to various military bases around the world for our troops to receive them in time for Christmas. Do not seal your cards in an envelope, we do not need the envelopes. All cards are mixed and re-boxed into larger boxes so that your cards are received at various military bases.”
“It costs our organization thousands of dollars to box the cards and mail them overseas to our troops in various parts of the world. Shipping costs are expensive these days. In general, and depending on the country, it cost us approximately $45.00 to ship 200 cards. All contributions are appreciated. We are now requesting that anyone who would like to send in cards, please help us to continue this terrific program during this special time of the year by making a financial donation.”
4. America’s Adopt a Soldier
Though they don’t provide any deadlines for submitting holiday cards and letters, it’s recommended that you postmark your cards by December 1, 2021 to ensure they are delivered before the holidays
“Please join us as we thank our Veterans who are in a Veterans Home or Veterans Hospital, and our Deployed Service members for their service and sacrifices. Today we average over 52,000 Veterans in VA Homes and Hospitals; we need your help to accomplish this. Your financial assistance is critical to our continued mission support – as we are a 100% Volunteer organization, with 100% of all donations going directly to support our projects and programs.”
5. Operation Gratitude
Too late to send Christmas cards through them this year – they had to be mailed to them by October. Though you can still send a letter or keep them in mind for your holiday cards next year.
Operation Gratitude is another organization that sends letters and care packages to troops, veterans, wounded soldiers and even their caregivers to show appreciation for those that they have done for our nation.
Each care package they send includes a bundle of letters…care package recipients have noted the letters as their most cherished items in the box.
This organization accepts letters year-round, but if you want your correspondence to arrive in time for Christmas, have your Christmas cards in the mail by October.
Operation Gratitude encourages you to compose cards to veterans, first responders and wounded heroes and their caregivers.
To send cards or letters through this organization, you must register online first, then follow the guidelines that will be emailed to you.
They all stress the importance of handwritten notes of appreciation in cards instead of generic store-bought cards with messages printed in them. If you are not gifted with 2D creativity and are not likely to make your own festive cards, here are some packages of cards with blank interiors you might want to consider for this project.
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What Do I Say?
– When offering a salutation, try using more generic greetings like “Dear Hero”, “Dear Troop”, “Dear Service Member” or something similar.
– It is important that any letters or cards addressed to them stay focused on optimistic, cheerful thoughts and ideas. Our military service members and wounded soldiers look forward to letters from civilians as an escape and a way to forget the stress of their daily duties.
– Remember to avoid talking about contentious topics like politics or religion, though it is ok to remind them that they’re in your prayers.
– Remember to sign your card with your name.
– As for letter content:
Tell them about things you like, what you do or about where you live. Feel free to include a drawing or picture something you’d like to show them.
Be sure to thank them for their service and remind them that it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Don’t make it all about you, ask them some questions about themselves too, like which state they are from, what they love most about America, or even their favorite ice cream flavor.
Consider including an email address or return mailing address – not all, but some of our military members write back!
What Can I Enclose?
You should restrict mailed items to letters and cards.
Do not include glitter, confetti or anything that could create a mess or isn’t securely fastened to your card or letter.
Letters and cards of any format are acceptable, they MUST contain handwritten personal message. That means you can include any type of holiday card, a letter written on stationery or a drawing or illustration of some kind, so feel free to get creative!
What About A Care Package?
You can’t directly send care packages through any of these programs. However, if you’re interested in contributing to care packages:
Military Missions’ Adopt a Hero program run care package programs for deployed troops. If you’re interested in contributing items to a care package, check their website for more details. (They also accept monetary donations to help offset shipping expenses.)
America’s Adopt A Soldier also runs a program, Challenge America, in which you can sponsor care packages for deployed military members.
I am wishing you all a very merry holiday season as we close out this tough year.
I hope you all have too many blessings to count, and when days are difficult, I hope you can find at least one good thing to smile about.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”