As we plan our Memorial Day holiday, consider a few simple and inexpensive ways that you and your family can serve the military and their families. Taking a few minutes from a hectic schedule to show appreciation and kindness to someone serving our country will not only bless you, it will also pay tribute to those who have gone before us and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We could all use an extra dose of kindness and appreciation these days, wouldn't you agree?
Don't let perfection get in the way of progress. Jump in and try one or more of these suggestions or come up with your own plan!
Volunteering to place flags on grave sites
Growing up, my Dad brought me and my siblings along before Memorial Day to place flags on the graves of servicemen and women. We were instructed that this was a solemn task and no complaining was tolerated. I can remember hot days, cold days, rainy days and bug-infested days. It didn't matter to Dad. He would explain that our servicemen and women endured these conditions and much worse to keep us safe and free. It was a regular family project that left a deep impression on all of us. Contact your local American Legion or VFW organization to volunteer your time.
Reach out to a military family in your community
Extend a hand in friendship to a military family. Invite them over for a meal, bring them a meal or invite them out for dinner. Something as simple as running an errand or taking a walk together can forge a friendship. If Mom or Dad is deployed, there will be additional challenges for the spouse at home. Get to know them and find out what you can offer. Simple gestures such as clipping extra diaper coupons, cutting the grass or helping to put up Christmas lights can mean so much when you are alone.
Invite a service member over for a holiday meal or celebration.
When I served in the Army, the holidays away were a melancholy time. Include a service person over for dinner during the holidays. If you have room, invite two, it will be less pressure for everyone. You can contact the Community Relations Office of your local base to get more information.
Visit an older veteran or wounded vet
Contact a nursing home or a veterans hospital. A visit can brighten a day and help a veteran to know they are not forgotten. The Walter Reed National Military Center has a Facebook page that provides inspiration and ideas.
Foster a pet
Dogs on Deployment arranges foster care for the pets of the military when they are deployed, during basic training or if they are unable to care for them. Contact them if you are able to provide a temporary home for a beloved pet.
Put it in writing
Write a letter of thanks to a military family, those currently in the service or a veteran through Operation Appreciation and Blue Star Families. This organization was founded to connect the civilian population with military families as a bridge to help make military life more sustainable.
During Christmas, you can send a holiday card through the Red Cross here .
Send expired coupons
You can send your extra coupons and even your expired coupons to the troops which they can use in their PX or BX. Visit ocpnet to get more information.
Bake treats, make blankets, provide calling cards and more
Soldier's Angels is a comprehensive website full of creative ways to show love to our troops "so that no soldier may go unloved".
Here are just a few, be sure and visit their website to get involved.
- Adopt a Soldier - Individualized support throughout deployment
- Angel Bakers - Homemade treats for the deployed
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Lori Felix is a US Army Veteran and founder of More with Less Today where she blogs about easy ways to stretch our dollars, simply, and bless others with our surplus. She is also a Savings.com Deal Pro and teaches Savings Nation workshops that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.