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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Happy Holidays!

The holiday season can be overwhelming with the many events, parties, shopping and gifts that seem to take away from its true meaning of giving. Now that I have kids, it’s important to me and my husband that we start to teach them early what it means to give back, especially when it comes to our military community.

Below, you’ll see several ideas to help you get involved this holiday season but anything that helps is a worthy idea in my opinion. Happy giving!

Holiday Meals for Military 

This yearly program from Operation Homefront distributes ready-to-go holiday meal kits to military families and includes everything needed for a traditional holiday meal. Since 2009, the program has fed more than 90,000 military families and continues to grow each year. Get inspired with photos from past events and help by making a small donation at the Operation Homefront donation page.

Holiday Toy Drive 

I’m sure some of us feel that we can all do with less toys in our lives but for those families who struggle with the expectations of gifts during the holidays, toy drives are the perfect way to pass along the spirit. Operation Homefront’s Holiday Toy Drive is an easy way to do a little good for the next kid. The program collects toys and distributes them at a participating event on base. Learn about how you can get involved at: https://www.operationhomefront.org/holidaytoys.

Consider a Monetary Donation 

We all lead hectic lives, so sometimes it’s just easier to contribute monetarily. Operation Homefront makes it super easy with their Current Needs list, a running list of critical requests for help made by military families across the country. Your donation can help a family pay utility bills, support medical expenses or even pay rent. I love the transparency and that I can see where donations are going. Check the Current Needs page for more information.

Organize a Bake Sale 

Something about the holidays gets me in the baking mood! Instead of doing it alone, think about organizing a bake sale on your base instead. It’s a fun way to connect with other parents in your community, get the kids involved, try different recipes and enjoy delicious treats at the end! A total win-win. You may even want to check in with your local commissary to see how they can help with the cost of ingredients and supplies.

Operation Homefront and Procter and Gamble are proud to partner together to serve America’s Military families.

About Start Strong, Stay Strong: Start Strong, Stay Strong enables military families like yours to connect with your best allies—each other. We’ll help you create the stability, connections and comfort in your military community that you and your family deserve.

About Melissa Stockwell: Nothing is harder and more rewarding than being a military mom. This is something American war veteran and Paralympian Melissa Stockwell knows well. After losing her left leg in combat in 2004 as a 24-year-old first lieutenant, the lifelong athlete and patriot knew should couldn’t stop there. She turned her years of hard training and dedication to para-athletics, and in 2008 earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Swim team. She competed for the first time as a Paralympian in Beijing, China. This commitment and new path started a journey that eventually led her to become a three-time world champion Para-triathlete, earning the Paralympic Bronze Medal in 2016. She then went on to co-found Dare2Tri, a nonprofit organization that introduces people with disabilities to the sport of triathlon. However, has been nothing compared to the joy and reward of Melissa’s biggest accomplishment—becoming a mom. Her two kids Dallas and Millie motivate her to continue to dream big and inspire her to serve as a role model so that one day they too will learn to discover their own dreams.

Whatever type of mom you are, Melissa helps us see that all moms are on a mission, together. Visit Melissa’s Corner and join today!

Inspire!

Melissa has inspired military spouses across the country at Operation Homefront events like Homefront Celebration and Star-Spangled Babies showers

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Returning from the holiday weekend, we found this message in our inbox:

“I just want to say thank you for sponsoring the Thanksgiving Meal this year. My son was born last Friday and funds have been a little tight this month. Having a wonderful home cooked meal meant the world to me and my wife. Thank you so much!”

There is no better feeling than to know that you made a difference in someone’s life when they needed some help. At Operation Homefront, we are privileged to witness this every day, thanks to the generosity of our fellow Americans. While we see the willingness to give year round, it is particularly evident during the holiday season.

givingtuesday2We are immeasurably grateful for this support, for this time of year also brings an increase in requests for assistance from our military and wounded, ill, and injured veterans. Since our inception, Operation Homefront has distributed over 57,000 holiday meals and served over 172,000 military children through our Holiday Toy programs.  But beyond holiday assistance, we warm homes, keep vehicles running, and ensure cupboards aren’t bare. To date, nearly 30,000 families have been helped through our emergency financial assistance program. Still more have been served through our rent-free transitional housing, Homes on the Homefront, the wildly successful Back-To-School Brigade, and more.

All thanks to the support of our community, partners, and donors.

Today is #GivingTuesday. For the 5th year, people the world over are joining together for one day to give back. Last year, on one day, over 700,000 individuals raised $116,000,000!

Please help our critical work continue by joining us this #GivingTuesday by #GivingStrength to our military, veteran and transitioning families when it is needed the most.

givingtuesday1Give Time:

With the help of our 3,200+ volunteers, we give strength to military families across the nation every single day through our programs. But there are always more families to support. You can help. Sign-up today to be an Operation Homefront volunteer to support military families in your area throughout the year.

Give Support:

We get requests from military families every day who need some assistance. Help us give strength and support to our service members when they need it the most. From help with a utility bill, to food assistance, to keeping a roof over a family’s head, you can help make life just a little easier for our military families and wounded warriors. 92% of all our donations made go directly to programs and services to support military families.  

16givingstrength_smpost_640x640Give Your Voice:

Email your Message of Thanks to info@operationhomefront.net or post a photo of a service member, veteran or military family member you know with their name, branch of service and when they served on the Operation Homefront Facebook page with #GivingStrength. You can also submit your personal stories for a chance to be featured on “Operation Homefront Strong Families” or our “Thank Military” Thursdays.

Learn more about our Giving Strength campaign by visiting www.operationhomefront.net/givingstrength

About Giving Tuesday:

In 2012, the New York’s 92nd Street Y, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, pondered the idea of harnessing the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities. They decided to promote a day of giving worldwide. You can learn more about #GivingTuesday at www.givingtuesday.org

 

 

 

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In the weeks before Christmas, throughout this great land.

Our elves on the homefront were lending a hand…

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Holiday Meals were bagged up and stuffed

To give to the families we can’t thank enough…

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Wishes were granted and moments were shared

Letting military families know that all of us cared… 

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The smiles of the families and joy that abounded

Reminded us all of the mission we founded…

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To remember the many who serve so we remain free

Who won’t be home this year to decorate their tree… 

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We hope you are home soon and with loved ones so dear,

Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!

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Thank you for helping Operation Homefront build strong, stable, and secure military families – all year long.

Special thanks this year to

Dollar Tree, Walmart, BeamSuntory, Amazon, CDW, Loves Travel Stops and Country Store,

Thirty-One, Ocean Spray, Navy Federal Credit Union, Samuel Adams, RetailMeNot.

 

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Guest blog, Nate Richards, 2012 Navy Military Child of the Year, age 12

This military kid is not crazy about dealing with the holidays. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and New Year’s! Lots of nice people and “Good Cheer.”

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According to Nate (far right, front), military kids can’t always have the traditional Christmas but with a little ingenuity their families can still be together and celebrate.

But when you’re a military kid it can be tough. Your parent can be deployed or one or more of your brothers won’t be home because of leave or deployment. It can be really challenging to get in the spirit.

So, my family has come up with some “awesometacullar” ways of still having traditions, not your normal ones but they are Richards’ military family ones. FYI, these are traditions that can usually change from year to year (Haha).

My favorite part about Christmas when I was little, was having everyone home to decorate the tree and have hot chocolate while listening to really old Christmas music. My older brothers are a bunch of comedians. So, it was always loud and lots of laughter. I think being a military kid taught me that you can still celebrate and be jolly even if things aren’t the way you remember or want them to be.

Our family has many new traditions when it comes to Christmas. We get our iPads and phones into the living room and then FaceTime whichever brothers can’t be home. We turn on the Christmas music LOUD so they can hear it.

We still make hot chocolate and then Isabelle and I become the ornament runners. Bubbu says put that one on the top left, Max will say put mine by John’s. Charlie is usually cracking jokes about something and the fact that he is on Santa’s naughty list.

Last year, My Dada got to watch us open our present from Santa via Skype. We made an awesome care package for My Dada. It had a small tree and Isabelle made Christmas ornaments. She also made some cookies for him.

That was how the traditions started for 2013 and 2014. This year, we will figure out how it will roll in the Richards’ house for 2015. We know already one brother is on deployment standby and another is in Navy A school too far away to come home. So it looks like the elf ornament runners will get another shot at decorating the tree via iPad (Hahaha).  Who knows what other new traditions will be started. I am pretty sure some of you have pretty unique ways of celebrating too. I hope you post them and maybe for all the kids that will not be together with their families, they can learn a new idea and start a new holiday tradition in their house.

I am really lucky to be a military kid that has so many brothers that serve as well as my Dada. We can’t always have the traditional Christmas but with a little ingenuity we can still be together and celebrate. No Black Friday shopping for us, or being sad. Just a day to figure out new ways to celebrate together.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Nate the Great

 

Nominations are being accepted for the 2016 Military Child of the Year award through December 11, 2015, 11:45pm CST. Nominations may be made by parents, other family members, teachers, counselors, coaches, community officials, church leaders, neighbors and others. For more information, visit www.militarychildoftheyear.org.

 

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The best gift at the holidays is to be surrounded by family and friends. In many ways, our military is one big family, and we are grateful to have some small part in making the holidays special for them. This year, we were able to bring joy to hundreds of military families at our Holiday Toy Drive and Holiday Meals for Military events across the country.

Like us, we hope that by the end of this blog, you will believe in the magic of Christmas and the spirit of the season and the special ties that bind the military community together:

Things may be humming ‘round the clock at the North Pole, but Santa is a huge fan of our military families, and makes sure to visit as many of our holiday events as he can.’

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We are pretty sure that this was actually Santa who swung by to hang out with our military and our Nevada Field Office.

What a gift it is to be able to feel the joy and wonder of the season through the eyes of children

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Baby’s First Christmas!

 

HTDMississippi

Future Hall of Famer.

 

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Definitely on the nice list.

 

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That moment when a child meets Santa…magic. (picture from PhillyDotCom of our PA/DE/NJ Field Office event)

 

 

Even the big ones

 

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Self proclaimed “toy tester”…riiiiight.

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Aloha!

 

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Gingerbread aprons bring the kid out in all of us.

We’d bet our volunteers would give any veteran elf a run for their money. Along with the joy of meeting so many of our military families, our holiday events give us the opportunity to see up front and personal all of the good in the world. They are the living testament to “be the light or the mirror that reflects it”.

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Team Depot supports our mission in so many ways, and bring the fun whenever they volunteer.

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Terrific group of ladies from Wells Faro who have partnered with us in our Homes on the Homefront program, awarding mortgage free home to our military and veteran families.

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Walmart is contributed cash and in-kind donations worth $250,000 to the 2014 Holiday Meals for Military program and Walmart associates also offered their help to package holiday meal kits. Here, they are visiting with our Carolinas Field Office and soldiers at Ft Bragg

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Who needs snow when you have palm trees and spirit? (w/ our Florida Field Office)

 

Without the support of so many generous supporters throughout the year, we would not be able to have the impact we do on our military families. And as we look forward to 2015, we know that while our mission will continue to be critical for many years to come, with your support, we will always be there to answer the call.

The staff, volunteers and families of Operation Homefront wish you all a holiday season full of light, laughter and love.

 Merry Christmas to all…

And to all, a good night!

All tuckered out in California.

All tuckered out in California.

If you would like to answer the call of our military and their families when they need it the most visit

Answer The Call

or learn about some of the families we are currently helping at

Current Needs

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Official Sponsor of Holiday Hugs!

Official Sponsor of Holiday Hugs!

“IM COMING HOME!!!!”

“Going to NY & surprising my parents!”

Are you an active duty service member trying to figure out how to get home for the holidays?  Then you will DEFINITELY want to read on…

Operation Homefront through support from Walmart is pleased to bring active duty Service Members Home for the Holidays!  Active duty Service Members are invited to apply for travel dates between December 1, 2013-January 5, 2014.

Applications for Home for the Holidays will be accepted through November 1.  OH reserves the right to close the application site earlier if all tickets are distributed.

  • CONTINENTAL 48    OH will fly 450 Service Members Home for the Holidays.  Service Members may apply to fly home to visit immediate family and/or legal military dependents.
  • HAWAII, ALASKA & OVERSEAS    OH will fly 50 Service Members from Hawaii, Alaska or overseas locations to the continental 48 states to be Home for the Holidays.

Click here for Requirements, Rules and Restrictions and to apply.

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We’re wrapping up our series covering the Home Depot Foundation Hometown Visits to our nation’s heroes in uniform.  Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III if you haven’t had a chance.

She may be a Mom 24/7, but 247Moms blogger Trisha Novotny  jumped at the chance to decorate a tree for a hero when Team Home Depot visited the Jennings family as part of their Celebration of Service 2012.  Little did she know that in giving this gift, she would get an even bigger one in return.

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Santa’s Little Helper

Before the laughter and lights, Trisha talked with the soldier, a wounded warrior, about his injuries, how they have impacted his family, and yet, remained incredibly positive about the future. “Each time I have been part of a Celebration of Service project with Home Depot I gain a greater appreciation and honor for our Veterans and those still serving today – They are true heroes who have sacrificed, given up and truly know the meaning of serving for the sake of others.”

After a delightful evening of holiday fun, Trisha and her boys shared the true spirit of the season. “As we drove away my boys and I discussed this is what Christmas is about serving and giving to others, making new friends and honoring those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”

What a wonderful lesson for all of us.

homedepothandmadehome2Over at the HandmadeHome, blogger couple Jamin and Ashley Mills were thrilled. “We absolutely adore our veterans and their wonderful service to our country. Last week, we were blessed to take a little bit of Christmas cheer and goodies from Home Depot and Operation Homefront” to the Clark Family .

“We felt honored that these super kind people opened up their home to us and let us help spread a little Christmas cheer.”

Thank You, Jamin and Ashley, for representing how so many of us feel towards our military, veteran and wounded warrior families.

Last but certainly not least, we land in Grand Rapids Michigan with my Dale from Military Avenue and the Purvis family.  The Military Avenue folks have been my Twitter buddies and I did a little happy dance to see they were a part of Home Depot’s Hometown Visits.

Among a living room “covered in pictures and memories from his multiple deployments and service to our country”,…

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….a peek at (possibly) next year’s holiday style trend:

Super Model!

Super Model!

She makes it work.

“Throughout my time with the family we shared plenty of laughs and a few serious and emotional topics.”, writes Dale Kissinger, the Military Avenue blogger. That’s military life, though, and it is a full one.

But these are the faces we remember:

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I am so blessed, as part of Operation Homefront’s Social Media Team, to witness, every day, the inspirational, the brave, the strength, the hope, and the love that defines the lives of the men and women (and their families) who pledge their lives in defense of our nation.  It is a great day when I get to share with you how our communities give back.  I hope you have enjoyed our recap of the Hometwon Visits with the Home Depot Foundation.  To learn more about their pledge to donate $50 million in 3 years to veterans projects and support, or to learn about opportunities for service in your area all year round, visit www.homedepotfoundation.org

Happy Holidays!

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I love the holiday season and the stories of giving, love and kindness that renew our belief in the true goodness of others.  It’s even better when they involve a few of my favorite things: military families, Christmas and service in our community.  Here are three more Holiday Hometown visits with Team Home Depot, Operation Homefront, and military bloggers from around the USA.

Gail Wilson of My Repurposed Life brought her decorating expertise to the Lake Family home at Ft Knox.  She made a really cute video

Admit it, you let out an “Awww” when the little boy kissed the gingerbread house kit.  Priceless.

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A star, a star, shining in the night…

Beneath My Heart blogger Traci Hutcherson describes her visit with her local veteran family perfectly: “..nothing was more beautiful than seeing 11 strangers spend a couple of hours together, sharing stories, decorating a tree, enjoying the season, and honoring the service of our Veterans.” 

Her son Jonathan added to the holiday cheer by breaking out his guitar and playing, “Silent Night”

Rock Star!

Rock Star!

We also learned an important lesson: when you ask a young man whether or not he wants to “put on the skirt”…be sure to clarify you mean the TREE SKIRT.

Simply Kierste blogger Kierste Wade learned a lot about Army life, Iraq and that girls need lots of shoes on her visit with veteran Quinton, his wife Jennifer, and their three year old daughter.

After fighting health issues, Quintin is now retired and looking forward to his future.  One that is a little brighter today thanks to the Home Depot Foundation.

Thank you for your service, Quintin!

Thank you for your service, Quintin!

Be sure to come back in the next few days and hear about the final hometown Celebration of Service visits with Team Home Depot.  In the meantime, check out these ladies blogs for some great holiday decorating and celebrating tips.

Simply Kierste

My Repurposed Life

Beneath My Heart

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Still not a Poet Laureate (see Part I of our series-linked),but that’s okay, because still more bloggers have written about their time as ambassadors of cheer with the Home Depot Foundation, Operation Homefront, and some special families who had their homes decked out in holiday cheer as part of Celebration of Service 2012.

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Team Depot with Decor Chick blogger, Emily, and J&R family

With a handle of DécorChick!, you knew our families would be in good hands with blogger Emily Allison.  How incredible is that her time with Celebration of Service, which she calls “life changing” ends with a holiday visit to give back to those who give so much to protect our country?

Who here would be surprised that a military family you came to say “Thank You” to would send you away with homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows as a thank you to you.

We aren’t.  That’s just how they roll, isn’t it?

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“In My Own Style” blogger Diane Henkler and Home Depot visited with Air Force Captain Marion R. and kids as part of a special Celebration of Service event. (Operation Homefront PA/DE)

I let out a squeal of delight when I saw that the elves made a stop in MY home state of Pennsylvania (If you haven’t had a chance to visit Bethlehem at Christmas Time, put it on your bucket list.  Trust me).

“In My Own Style” blogger Diane Henkler wrote of her visit with Air Force Captain Marion R. and kids , “You are what makes this country and our Military strong”….and we couldn’t agree more.  Marion has been in the service for 27 years, enlisting back in 1985.  She’s also Mom to three amazing kids who understand that sometimes, Mom can’t be there for those special days.

But not this day, and thanks to Diane, the Home Depot Foundation, and our fabulous PA/DE Field Office, they’ll have a wonderful memory to share for years to come.  Check out Diane’s slideshow of her visit.  It is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.

homedepotlovelycraftyhome2Meanwhile, down in North Carolina, even the family dogs were excited to see “ Lovely Craft Home” blogger  Rachael Evans and the Home Depot/Operation Homefront crew .
Look, doggie kisses:

How timely that they arrived just as the family had returned from a Christmas parade?

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After a whirlwind of lights, ornaments and wreaths, the perfect moment of a family around the tree (including wrangled dogs):

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We’ll be back with Part III and even more stories of giving back to those who give so much to us, our military and veteran families.  In the meantime, check out the incredible initiative and commitment of the Home Depot Foundation to our nations veterans.

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Twas the weeks before Christmas

And all through the land

Home Depot Elves were ready

To give MilFamilies a hand…

Well, I tried…

Instead, let’s hear from some much more erudite folks who joined Team Home Depot over the last couple of weeks as they visited military families and veterans around the country draped in tinsel and garland and spirit galore as part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service 2012.  We hope their stories touch you as much as their visits touched our families.

Deja "was mesmerized by the glittery ornaments and all the lights on the tree"

Deja “was mesmerized by the glittery ornaments and all the lights on the tree”

The best part for Army Wife and author of “The New Normal” blog Kris Ligenfelter of her visit with Army Specialist Shamika Pliars and family? 

“…watching the family together put the finishing touch on the tree…the star at the top. This is always my favorite moment in decorating our tree at home and we have such a tradition surrounding it, so I loved watching this family make their own tradition of placing their star on top.”

You can’t put a price on sharing a moment like that!

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Blogger Stacy Risenmay and kids with the Bennett Family in Utah.

Stacy Risenmay is definitely “Not Just A Housewife”.  She has volunteered with the Home Depot Foundation quite a bit, but was thrilled to hear that a project was coming to her hometown in Utah.   Not only that, but the veteran she was bringing Christmas cheer to?  A high school classmate!  Talk about providence!

You have to head over to her blog to see the cards her sons made for their visit with the “real life soldier”.  Too precious.

Can we get some of these?

Can we get some of these?

We want to know the “Witty Little Secret” behind the Ginger Molasses cookies blogger and military wife Lori Volkman brought with her on the Team Depot visit to SSgt Jimmy McEwing and his family of Vancouver WA.   See the pic? Tell us you don’t want to know either.

Grab some nog and cookies and settle in to hear not just a Christmas story, but a bonus love story too.  Hint: a care package, a note, and destiny.

Come back for Part II and more through next week.  Special thanks to Lori Volkman of Witty Little SecretKris Ligenfelter of The New Normal, and Stacy Risenmay of Not Just a Housewife for your service to our country, to your communities, and to our military and veteran families. You can see more photos from their visits on our Pinterest Board.

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