Holiday $$$ Help for Military Families
The holiday season can bring both joy and stress to military families, not only emotionally but financially. Gifts and get-togethers are great, but expenses can run high! For service members and their families who seek financial assistance, here are some examples of resources that may be available nationally, or in your local community:
USO – Ask your local USO about its holiday programs. Some offer free meals, entertainment, and toys to military families. https://www.uso.org/locations
Toys for Tots – Since 1947 the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program has distributed nearly half a billion toys as Christmas gifts to children in the communities it serves. This program is open to all children, including military kids. Families can select their state from the “Request a Toy” tab to learn about how to sign up. https://www.toysfortots.org/request_toys/Default.aspx
Veterans’ Service Organizations – Many Veterans’ Service Organizations (VFW, American Legion, etc.) provide holiday support to service members, veterans, and their families. Programs vary, but may include holiday meals, food pantries, gift card distribution, and fellowship. Check out BBB Wise giving Alliance at www.give.org for information about charities supporting members of the military and veteran communities.
Installation Support – Holiday support at local installations also varies, but may include food baskets, holiday meals, toy donation, fellowship, or entertainment. Contact the family center at your nearest installation and ask about the support provided this year.
Local Nonprofits – The scope of support varies greatly. Nonprofits may be regional, national, or only provide support to military families within a certain county. Operation Homefront is an example of a national nonprofit that provides regional support. In some areas it offers holiday meals, holiday parties, and toy drives for military families. Contact your family support center for a list of nonprofits providing support to military families in your area.
Military Discounts – Also keep in mind that discounts are offered by numerous stores, services and online sites – and not just during the holidays! – with names spanning from A (Apple, Applebees, Armed Forces Eyewear, etc.) to Z (Zales Diamond Store). For a comprehensive list, visit https://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/.
Information for this article came from The National Military Family Association, a private, non-profit group; and MilitaryBenefits, a non-government, privately funded website. For additional tips and referrals, visit https://www.militaryfamily.org/ and https://militarybenefits.info/military-discounts/.