Military budgets, which are often already stretched to their limits, do not contain a lot of money for buying Christmas presents. However, military families are also some of the most deserving people during the holiday season. To help thank military families for the sacrifices they make year-round, many organizations offer programs to make Christmas possible, especially for those with children who deserve to have a joy-filled Christmas. We often get emails from people asking how they can help military families in need of assistance during the holiday season.
Here are some programs and options available to military families in need and how people can assist:
Military Benefits is proud to have partnered with Pay Away The Layaway to support military families by paying off their layaway balances at the Exchanges and retail stores. Pay Away The Layaway is a national 501(c)3 non profit organization all volunteer organization which means most of the money goes directly to military families.
Adopt-a-Family for the Holidays
Numerous organizations offer adopt-a-family programs. Military families who can show proof of need submit their wish lists to the organization and donors adopt the families by purchasing items from their wish lists for Christmas. Because of the popularity of adopt-a-family programs, you must fill out an application months before Christmas in order to get on the list. Pay attention to deadlines and get your application in as soon as the window opens because spaces fill up fast.
Full Circle Home
Full Circle Home gives deployed servicemen a chance to send a gift box to their wives back home. Gift boxes contain pampering items, such as lotions, bubble baths and spa socks. They also feature a handwritten note from the serviceman.
Military Installation Support
The family centers at military installations offer assistance in many forms during the holidays including programs such as Santa’s Shop in which donations are taken for military families in need. Contact the local installation for how you can help. For assistance, reach out to the Family Readiness Group, Chaplain or MWR.
- MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) Office Locator – Located on bottom right of page
- Military Installation Locator
Operation Christmas Spirit
Operation Christmas Spirit supports local military families in the form of holiday gratitude by “adopting” over 100 families and fulfilling their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members and gift cards to do their own shopping; Sponsoring gifts and crafts at unit holiday parties; and “Adopting” single Marines and Sailors, giving them gifts and gifts cards to celebrate whether near or far from their families.
Operation Holiday Joy (Armed Services YMCA)
Donate to the ASYMCA Operation Holiday Joy program and 100% of your donation goes to food and toys this holiday season and you can designate your donation to a specific program.
Operation Homefront offers many programs for military families throughout the year and Christmas is no exception. The organization partners with Dollar Tree to provide toys for military children. To receive a gift, you must register for your local Operation Homefront Toy Distribution. If your family lacks the funds for a holiday meal, you can also attend one of the organization’s holiday meal events and receive all of the fixings for the perfect Christmas dinner.
The Red Cross provides many military family services including but not limited to financial assistance and deployment services.
Spirit of Sharing
Soldiers’ Angels sponsors Operation Outreach Holiday Support. Lower enlisted families can sign up to receive a $50-$100 gift card to help pay for a holiday meal and gifts for children ages 15 and under. Families must sign up for the program by Dec. 15 and are matched with donors from around the United States.
Toys for Tots
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The program is for all children, including military kids. Donate or request a toy.
Trees for Troops
Every family needs a Christmas tree and Tree for Troops, sponsored by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, offers free Christmas trees for military families. Trees are available at 62 bases throughout the United States.
Veterans Service Organizations
Many Veterans’ Service Organizations (American Legion, VFW, etc.) provide a wide variety of holiday support to service members, veterans, and their families. Program benefits often include meals, food , gift cards, and adopt-a-family, or adopt-a-veteran programs.
Local USO offices provide a variety of holiday assistance programs including holiday dinners, events with Santa, toy and food drives and much. Contact a local USO office.
Wreaths Across America
Donate to Wreaths Across America which coordinates wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. They organize a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia.
Additional Way to Support the Military this Holiday Season
Care packages, holiday cards and letters, thanking our veterans and military families are all ways we can provide additional support.
Enjoy the Holidays
Whether your service member is deployed or lucky enough to be home for the holidays, take advantage of the Christmas programs for military families to help you enjoy your holidays. Staying connected with your command or unit’s Family Readiness Group can be a way to find out about local programs that offer gifts and meals for military families to help make your holiday even more special.
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