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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

A Marine greets his family at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., Nov. 21, after returning from a seven-month deployment. The Marine is assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, which supported combat operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Terry Haynes III

Dare we say it? Thanksgiving is one of the remaining holidays with a clear central purpose. Consider the things you are thankful for … and eat! For years and years, and to this day, our nation has yet to veer from the main goal of Thanksgiving. We gather, we consider our blessings and we partake of a glorious meal. (And Operation Homefront is honored to provide Holiday Meals for Military, like our recent events in Texas).

Retailers may try to invade, starting Black Friday sales earlier every year…but Americans hold fast to this turkey-licious tradition.

And when we consider all that we have to be thankful for, our military is always at the top of our short list! We’re fairly certain that whether your family serves in the military or not, you are likely to take a moment today to be grateful for the men and women who miss many a holiday, including Thanksgiving, to ensure their fellow Americans can rest easy at night. We do.

So, share this with your family today.

Here are 3 reasons to be thankful for our military. These may not be the first time you’ve considered them, but Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to truly appreciate those who serve in our Armed Forces.

Two children excitedly welcome home their father and the crew of the attack submarine USS Norfolk from a six-month deployment during a homecoming ceremony on Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kim Williams

1. What they’ve missed. There is a reason we all love military homecoming videos. Unless you’ve experienced, you can’t completely understand the feeling of leaving those you love behind. Or the joy of returning home to them. Thanksgiving isn’t the only holiday many of our service members have spent on foreign soil in unfamiliar surroundings. Those are moments with sons, daughters, spouses and family that can never be recovered. For every peaceful day Americans get to experience with loved ones nearby, we have our military to thank.

2. Courage in the face of the unknown. Those who serve have a mission. They work as a unit. But the whole point of having a strong military is outmaneuvering those who threaten the freedoms we enjoy. While they are trained for difficult situations, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause a certain amount of trepidation – for the service members and their families who may not sleep from the weight of worry. But our service members persevere through those hard days. And for those who carry the wounds of war, they are on a journey with an unknown conclusion. They have certainly earned our support.

Pfc. Jordan Wagner, an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, greets loved ones during a homecoming ceremony at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

3. They choose to serve. Only about 1 in 4 of those between the ages of 17-23 years qualify for military service. And because we have a volunteer force, of those who qualify, not everyone wants to serve in our military. Thank YOU to the brave men and women who chose a hard but noble way to spend your youth. You did it for your future but mostly, you did it for all of us!

For all you do, thank you!

Join Operation Homefront in our mission to build strong, stable, and secure military families through our Giving Strength initiative. This holiday season, we want to give strength to our military and veteran families. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can support, honor and serve our military.

A few easy ways:

1. Send a message of appreciation to our military.

2. Use our new Facebook frame to show that you join us in giving strength to our military.

3. Sign up to be a volunteer.

4. Give a gift in support of our military through one of our current needs.

May you and all our service members, veterans and their families, have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for all you do to keep our country strong.

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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.

nevertoooldforsantahawaiicrop

Aloha!

 

gingerbreadgsoldierelvesKYTN

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”.

HomeDepotViolsSalem

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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74581_10152020985359884_170441004_nIs Thanksgiving a special holiday for you or your family?

Operation Homefront through support from Josh Cellars is pleased to offer up to 10 active duty Service Members round trip airfare home to see their loved ones!

Eligibility: Active duty, traveling from and to destinations in the continental 48 states; travel dates between Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2013; traveler must be the service member, no exceptions.

To apply, send an e-mail to Travel@operationhomefront.net and include: Your name, Service branch, Rank, Duty station, Departure City (where you are) & Destination City (where you want to go), and, in 300 words or less, please share what a trip home for Thanksgiving would mean to you and your family. Feel free to include how long you’ve been away from your loved ones, what your family’s Thanksgiving traditions are, and how you’d celebrate if you were able to be together this year.

Each Recipient will receive ONE round trip ticket home and a special gift!

Entries will be accepted through November 8, 5pm CST.

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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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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!

homedepotnotjustahousewife

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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