You’ve probably noticed your friends or family sharing this message lately.
When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
xxx Georgia Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. xxxx
It seems to get shared more and more as we get closer to the holidays, and for good reason. People want to thank our troops and show their support, especially for those stationed overseas during the holiday season. The intentions are good.
Unfortunately, the information is not correct…at least not anymore.
Years ago, “Any Solider” packages were accepted and distributed. Since 2006, due to security concerns and logistical issues, these types of letters and packages are simply discarded. There are not enough resources to sort and check packages, let alone get them distributed where needed.
If you’d like to send a gift of thanks or holiday cards to troops, here are a few places to check out.
Note: Always, always, always contact any organization before starting your holiday cards to ensure they are accepting cards this season. Some local chapters may not have the resources needed to distribute items or may have reached their limit on cards they can realistically send before the holidays. I can not stress this enough. Also, please be sure to check for any restrictions on the types of cards or items that can be sent, especially for cards and packages going overseas.
Blue Star Mothers: You can locate a chapter in your state and help with care packages, letter campaigns, and other projects.
Hero Box: Hero Box will pair you up with a solider and send you a list of their wants/needs/likes/dislikes so you can really personalize your care package. (I’ve participated in their program before and it is great to be able to know exactly who your package is going to and be able to include some things they love or miss from home.) This is a great way to get your kids involved. They can help you shop for items, pack the boxes, and make cards for your adopted solider.
Your Local Red Cross Chapter: The national holiday card campaign once run by the Red Cross is no longer in service, but you can contact your local chapter for information on sending cards to troops. You can also volunteer to help sort and mail the letters, which is a great community service project for older children.
Your Local USO Chapter: Many USO chapters will accept cards for troops, especially chapters with airport service locations where they can hand cards to soldiers travelling during the holiday season. You can also make monetary donations on the national level to help with their Holiday Boxes campaign and other amazing services the USO provides here at home and overseas.
Local FRG or Spouse Organization: If you live in the vicinity of a military base, contact the local FRG (Family Readiness Group) or Spouses Organization/Ombudsman. They may be participating in a card campaign or can help you “adopt” a platoon/ship/troop to send cards and care packages to this year.
Veterans Organizations: Check with your local American Legion, VFW, and VA Hospital. Many will accept cards for patients or veterans in your area, some of which may be unable to travel or be with their families over the holidays. VA Hospitals are very strict with the type of cards their patients can receive, so keep this in mind when creating cards if you’ve been granted permission to deliver them to the hospital.
Any Solider: This organization pairs soldiers up with those wanting to donate letters and care packages. The solider that receives the items distributes them to men and women in their troop so that no one is left without mail. They have volunteer contact soldiers located all over the world.
This is just a basic list of ways you can send holiday cheer to servicemembers this holiday season. If you have a resource, please feel free to share it in the comments. Again, please be sure to check and double check and triple check with any organization, especially on the local level, before beginning a card campaign or care package.