Click on the bold titles below to be linked to the websites listed
** denotes awaiting 2020 information
Invite a service member into your home for Thanksgiving
Here is a listing of opportunities to invite a service member into your home to share a Thanksgiving meal with your family (none in 2020 due to Covid-19)
- Operation Home Cooking (San Antonio, TX) San Antonio area families can express their warmth and hospitality to Airmen and trainees at Lackland AFB by allowing them an opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal and family atmosphere. Families within the San Antonio metropolitan area may invite two Airman or trainees. (Cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 - LINK)
- Training Support Center Great Lakes (North Chicago, IL) This year, Sailors assigned to Training Support Center Great Lakes (TSC) onboard Naval Station Great Lakes (NAVSTA) will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with local families thanks to the Adopt-a-Sailor program. The Thanksgiving Adopt-a-Sailor is a program in which Sailors are invited into families' homes to share Thanksgiving dinner. It's an opportunity for Sailors to enjoy a home-cooked meal and the company of a family. It has been a tradition here at Great Lakes since World War I. All host forms must be received on October 30, 2019. For further information or questions, please call TSC Public Affairs Office at 847-688-4862, ext. 161. - Host Family LINK (Presumed cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19)
Here are some valuable tips to consider when you host a service member - LINK
Thanksgiving support for military and veteran families
Here is a listing of organizations that are hosting Thanksgiving dinner events across the nation for military and veteran families:
- American Friends of our Armed Forces (AFAF) Annual Adopt a Marine (Palm Desert, CA) (Format changed in 2020 due to Covid-19) 14th annual Adopt-A-Marine for Thanksgiving on November 26, 2020. AFAF is pleased to announce its 14th Annual Adopt a Marine for Thanksgiving Celebration will meet Covid 19 guidelines for a safe and sanitary environment. The Marines are operating under tight guidelines to keep the troops safe and healthy with their training and health being critically important to the security of our country. We are so pleased to be able to provide a program that will contribute to the well being of our troops. Our goal remains the same, honoring and thanking our troops for their service to our country. Replacing the annual hosting of more than 400 Marines at the homes of host families are arrangements for more than 1000 Marines at the 29 Palms Marine Base to enjoy a weekend of great food and gifts. The Marines will have the opportunity to visit a base mess hall for a traditional Thanksgiving meal followed later in the weekend with a BBQ lunch and gifts delivered to the troops’ barracks. AFAF and Marine Corps Community Services, longtime partners in providing services and program to Marines, are excited to let you know about the plan details. The weekend portion of the celebration includes a BBQ lunch delivered to the troops’ barracks with a gift of a personalized, insulated tumbler presented to each Marine. You can be a part of the program by sponsoring one or more Marines at a cost of $30 per Marine. This covers the BBQ and insulated tumbler with the Thanksgiving dinner provided by the base. We are hopeful of finding sponsors for all of the 1000 Marines who will participate.
- Arena Stage (Washington, DC) Every year, hundreds of Washington-area military families spend the Thanksgiving holiday away from loved ones. In gratitude for their service, Arena Stage will invite 200 wounded warriors, service men and women and their families to an elegant dinner and a performance of Disney's Newsies at the Mead Center for American Theater on Friday, November 29, 2019. (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- Christian Service Center (San Antonio, TX) Thanksgiving for active duty and their families -- Thanksgiving is coming up soon! Anyone that would like to RSVP stop on by for a form or give us a call! Also looking for volunteers for the set up and cooking on Thanksgiving Day! Give us a call at (210) 223-4962. Event takes place on November 28, 2019 from 7 AM – 6 PM CST. (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- Deli Planet (Wichita Falls, TX) Thursday, November 28 from 11am - 8pm The Deli Planet of Wichita Falls will host its fifth annual Thanksgiving with the military. Free of charge for members stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base. (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- First Presbyterian Church (Littleton, CO) Veterans and active duty military and their families are invited to a free Thanksgiving dinner. Every year FPCL volunteers provide a full meal on Thanksgiving to those in our community. Ordinarily we offer both a sit-down dinner at our church for about 80 guests, as well as home delivery of nearly 300 meals to those unable to leave their homes. This year, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be able to offer a sit-down meal. However, we will still offer home delivery of Thanksgiving dinner. This year, FPCL has received permission to prepare our meals at the beautiful new Meals on Wheels facility on Arapahoe Rd. Church volunteers will provide contactless deliveries, wearing masks, and following all applicable safety protocols. To order a meal, contact the church office at 303-798-1389.
- Homefront America (San Diego, Camp Pendleton, San Juan Capistrano, CA) This Thanksgiving, Homefront America would like to say "thank you" with its "Giving Thanks to Heroes" program. Families will receive non-perishable groceries plus a Turkey Certificate that can be redeemed for a turkey at any grocery store or commissary.
- House in the Woods (Lee, ME) Veterans and Community Thanksgiving Dinner Thursday, November 28, 2019, serving at 2:00, 4:00, 6:00pm. Reservation requested. Free to all veterans. (Cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19)
- MCAS Miramar Enlisted Recreation Center Friendsgiving Feast (San Diego, CA) Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 1730 at The Great Escape. Stop by for a free Thanksgiving meal, fall-themed games, prizes, and more! Event is only open to single and geo-bachelor service members stationed aboard MCAS Miramar. Face mask and practicing social distancing is required.
- VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Check with your local VFW as many across the country serve Thanksgiving Day meals.
Here are some events that are supporting military and veteran families with Thanksgiving meal baskets or free turkeys:
- Holiday Hero Meals (Swampscott Town Hall, Hanscom Air Force Base Commissary, Massachusetts) All bags include a $50 gift card. Holiday fixings (Food bag is in Swampscott only due to base restrictions) Check back soon for online registration and pick-up dates. All pick-ups will require masks and social distancing. Thanksgiving Hero Meals are a way to simply say “Thank You” to those who have served in our nation both at home and abroad. Military families, families of families of fallen servicemembers, and Gold Star families are welcome to register.
- Homefront America Giving Thanks to Heroes program Even turkeys want to do their part to help support our Troops! Every Thanksgiving, Homefront America volunteers put together more than 250 Thanksgiving food baskets for our military families to enjoy. In addition to the food baskets, families also receive a certificate that can be used to redeem for a turkey of their choice.
- Hugs for Soldiers (Fort Benning, GA) Hugs for Soldiers is collecting canned food and non-perishable food items to make Thanksgiving food baskets for Soldiers and Families at Fort Benning through the Battle Buddy Resource Center. The Center is a food bank ministry of the Fort Benning Chaplains and ministry outreach to the Fort Benning community. Donations will be accepted at the Duluth First United Methodist Church through Wednesday, November 13, 2019. (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- Operation Holiday Joy (ASYMCA) If you are a service member or family member in need, please find your local ASYMCA branch to learn more about Operation Holiday Joy programming available where you live. If you are a business owner or corporate representative and are interested in supporting Operation Holiday Joy, please contact the Chief Development Officer.
- Operation Homefront Various organizations are teaming up with Operation Homefront to provide military service members and their families a Thanksgiving dinner.
- Paws and Patriots Thanksgiving Food Drive (Orange, CA) Join us for the Thanksgiving holiday to support our active military and veteran families by placing a warm hearty meal on each plate. With your contributions and/or donations, we can give thanks to those who serve.
- **Project New Hope's Turkey Giveaway (Worcester, MA) Registration is open now open for the “Turkey Giveaway” program sponsored by the Arredondo Family Foundation in partnership with Project New Hope Inc. The program aims to distribute 125 turkeys to low income veterans, military families and Families of the Fallen in the region. Distribution day: Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 from 12:00 to 4:00pm.
- Road Home Program (Chicago, IL) Veterans, Come join us on Thursday, November 21, 2019 (4:00-7:00 pm) for our 6th Annual Turkey Drop at the Jewel-Osco, 1340 South Canal Street, Chicago, IL 60607. Our friends from MillerCoors will be passing out frozen Thanksgiving meals to veterans that register in advance and present valid ID. There will also be representatives from the Chicago Bears on site for a special meet and greet. Register now to attend here: https://bit.ly/3291OLe (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
- Space Coast Thanksgiving Basket Brigade (Satellite Beach,FL) Our Space Coast Power Team is proud to announce our 11th Annual Thanksgiving Basket Brigade! The Space Coast Basket Brigade is a family run non-profit that is dedicated to supporting families in need in our local community. Our Annual Thanksgiving Basket Brigade is our main event and we are happy to say grows exponentially each year!! Who receives a basket? Families who have fallen on hard times due to low income, loss of income, death in the family, or illness. active and veteran military families and families living in shelters. We work with many local schools, churches, and organizations to find the families and also accept personal nominations. We also deliver over 150 In Transition Baskets to families who are living in hotels, shelters, parks, tents, or homeless. Event takes place Saturday, November 21 at 10am through Sunday, November 22 until 4pm.
- USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore (Arlingon, VA) This Holiday Season, USO-Metro is honored to say “Thank You” to local military families by providing holiday meal baskets in a festival environment! Join us for crafts, cooking demos, games, activities and more for the whole family to enjoy through Turkeys for Troops! The deadline to register is November 1, 2020 at 12:00pm ET. Winners will be notified by the first week in November. This program is available to active duty service members, E-1 to E-6, stationed in the DMV. Command referral may be accepted in certain conditions for higher ranks, email [email protected] to find out how. (Link to other USO chapters)
- USO Operation Turkey Drop (San Antonio, TX) Join USO San Antonio for Operation Turkey Drop on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 from 12:00pm-4:00pm! Sign up for your preferred time slot to get your turkey (1 per family) and fixings! This event can support 200 recipients E6 and below. Please make sure to sign up for a time slot as this event will fill up quickly on a first come, first served basis. We ask that you attend during your scheduled time slot to ensure all Thanksgiving kits get distributed in an organized and timely fashion. Turkey gift cards will be provided at the Turkey Drop along with all your fixins'. This is to ensure the safest manner in which to distribute the turkeys.
- VETLIFE Harvest for Heroes (Howell, MI) Join VETLIFE on Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 2300 E Grand River Avenue Howell, MI 48843 for Harvest for Heroes. We will be giving away 120 Thanksgiving baskets to veterans and their families. Registration is required to receive a free turkey basket.
Invite a service member into your home for Christmas
- MCAS Miramar Enlisted Recreation Center Home for the Holidays (San Diego, California) HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is a special Christmas program sponsored by the MCAS Miramar Enlisted Recreation Center. It coordinates placement of single service members into the homes of San Diego County families to celebrate Christmas. Caring families are asked to host service members who are unable to be with their own families and loved ones on this traditional family holiday. These families are carefully selected to suit our active duty service members and host preferences. 1) Service members wishing placement with community families are required to submit an invitation/application form by Friday, 20 December, 2019. Forms can be picked up and returned to The Great Escape, The Hub Bldg 5305 (westside) or this form can be faxed to The Great Escape at (858) 577-4775. 2. Host Families must be willing to provide round-trip transportation to and from MCAS Miramar for their military guests. 3. Generally, not more than two service members are placed with each community family. 4. Service members will be picked up from The Great Escape between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. Military personnel and host families will be contacted regarding specific assignments and pick-up times. 5. If you have any questions, or need more information about or HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS CHRISTMAS PROGRAM, contact The Great Escape at (858) 577-6171. (Cancelled due to Covid-19)
Christmas support for military and veteran families
- Able Forces Adopt a Warrior Christmas Program (Washington, DC) This is the largest charity program we sponsor each year and we expect to take care of hundreds of children and dozens of military families who would otherwise go without a Christmas. Families are drawn from all military services. For various reasons many of our warrior families find themselves in financial crisis, especially during the holiday season. To give back, Able Forces is once again sponsoring the Adopt-A-Warrior Family Christmas Program. As in years past, Able Forces will adopt families from each of the five Military Service branches. All adopted families are identified by military advocates on military bases or military recovery programs in the Washington, DC Metro area.
- Adopt a Family Michigan (Volunteers of America) (Michigan) Volunteers of America Michigan’s Adopt A Family program helps families with children, seniors and veterans by providing food, toys and clothing. The Adopt A Family program connects those who can help with those who need help. This Volunteers of America program is an opportunity for individuals, teams, companies and organizations to reach out and lift up those in need, either through direct adoption or financial contribution.
- **Adopt A Hero for Christmas (San Antonio, TX) Adopt a Hero for Christmas is a charity comprised of people who honor and support America's wounded Soldiers and their families who have sacrificed so much to protect our nation and ensure our freedom. Our mission is to bring the joy of Christmas to our heroes and their families. We collect Christmas gifts and needed items for our wounded Soldiers and their families at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. We deliver these gifts to our heroes during Christmas and we visit with them. Please help by donating an unwrapped gift for a wounded Soldier, their spouse or their children. (awaiting 2020 info)
- Armed Services YMCA - Operation Holiday Joy The annual Operation Holiday Joy campaign spreads joy throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, thanks to your generous support. Operation Holiday Joy gives Americans a way to show their appreciation for the sacrifices our military and their families make for us and our country. Operation Holiday Joy was established in 2004 in collaboration with Woman’s Day magazine. Together with their readers, more than $1.3 million has been raised to provide food and gifts to junior enlisted military service members and their families during the holidays. Since it's inception, Operation Holiday Joy has distributed more than 25,000 baskets of food to military families and more than 320,000 toys to military children. Many of the ASYMCA locations participate in Operation Holiday Joy. Find your local branch. The Armed Services YMCA is committed to spreading holiday cheer every year. Help us make the holidays brighter for military families. LINK to Armed Services YMCA locations.
- Armed Services YMCA (Camp Pendleton, CA) So many active duty military families have had to make tough financial decisions this year, and many are worried that they won't be able to shoulder the extra costs of the Holidays. We are committed to supporting them through our Secret Santa and Santa's Workshop programs. Families are identified to the Armed Services YMCA by Camp Pendleton family advocacy organizations (hospital case workers, MCCS counselors, New Parent Support Program, EMFP program, and Family Readiness Officers). Every year the Armed Services YMCA Camp Pendleton partners with the Orange County Bankruptcy Forum to provide bikes to military families.
- A Soldier's Child Family to Family Christmas (Fort Campbell, KY) A Soldier’s Child seeks to be responsible for over 200 Gold Star children having a blessed Christmas morning. There will be caring folks from the Southeast up to the Northeast areas giving back to these children through ASC’s S.O.S Christmas. Gift drop-off deadline is December 12, 2020.
- AUSA General John W. Vessey Jr. Chapter - Toys 4 Military Kids (Minnesota, Wisconsin) Our mission is to provide gifts to military members and their families during the holidays in recognition of the sacrifices they have made on our behalf. We support units and families in four states including Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- Believe with Me Our American Gold Star Christmas project gives grateful Americans the opportunity to let our Gold Star kids know that they are remembered during the challenging Christmas season.
- **Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Holiday Gift Checks ~ Each year, the Coalition distributes gift checks to thousands of wounded veterans and their families for holidays such as Easter and Thanksgiving so they can enjoy a traditional holiday meal together, and $500 ‘Secret Santa’ checks that enable them to participate in the gift-giving tradition of the season, and still meet other pressing financial obligations. (awaiting 2020 info)
- Fort Hood Santa's Workshop (Fort Hood, TX) Fort Hood Santa's Workshop is a non-profit organization. We were created exclusively for charitable purposes as a unit-level (13thCOSCOM) initiative. Out of necessity, it grew into an installation-level project in 1998. Too often soldiers face unique financial stress. We don't want military kids to feel that stress. Our mission is to make new toys accessible for children of the Fort Hood military community during the holiday season. In times of financial crisis Christmas presents may be a luxury. Our military kids deserve an amazing holiday. And who knows the needs of individual children better than their parents? At Santa's Workshop Fort Hood, the parents browse our well-stocked shelves to make the most appropriate selection from brand new toys, games and books for their children.
- Freedom Alliance Presents for Patriots Christmas can be bittersweet for families depending on their circumstances and this is no less true for those who serve in our nation’s armed forces. There might be a family member deployed overseas during the holiday, or perhaps their loved one has returned not quite the same as when he or she left. Financial crisis, time constraints, and other stresses can make Christmas a cause for anxiety and sorrow rather than celebration for our military families. As difficult as these situations can be, this need creates an advantageous time to demonstrate goodwill for our heroes at home. The Freedom Alliance Presents for Patriots program is our way to give each home in hardship the assistance they need. Working with contacts at bases across the country, families are identified and put in touch with us. We work with these families to ensure every gift is special and that each child receives the Christmas they deserve. Last year, we were able to take on 53 families, impacting all together 231 people and this year our goal is to provide Christmas for 75 families! There many ways you can be involved this year, for more information contact Jennifer Ohman at jen.ohman (at) freedomalliance.org.
- Full Circle Home Our service men and women are doing more than their part. They need and deserve all the care packages, love and support that we can give. But at Christmas and Mother's Day, they want to send their love back – back to their wives, fiancés, girlfriends and moms. This program is designed to let our heroes be heroes yet again, by allowing them to send their holiday gifts and a love note to their quiet hero at home. This is accomplished through the generosity and appreciation of businesses and individuals who sponsor a servicemen's gifts home.
- Georgia National Guard Christmas Assisstance Program (Georgia) The Georgia National Guard Christmas Assistance Program is designed to be a supplemental program for service members that are struggling financially and are not able to provide for their children. Those in need may be deployed, may have recently returned from overseas, are classified as a wounded warrior or are a traditional National Guardsman. We are collecting toys and gift cards (gift cards for the older children) to support our local military families (Georgia National Guard, etc.). Please join us in our gratitude mission by giving our nation’s youngest heroes the most amazing Christmas they could imagine! The collection donation deadline is Tuesday, 12/15/2020.
- Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors (Washington state) Heartbeat has several Christmas morale-building programs for wounded service members and their families. We have a program for every family member: warrior, spouse, and child. Morale building improves warriors’ health. It shows them how much we appreciate their sacrifices, and it tells them, “You aren’t alone."
- Hearts of Patriots Holidays can be a critical time for spouses and families of PTSD veterans suffering from invisible wounds of war. With young children and a veteran, unable to handle holiday crowds, many caregivers add extra shopping and planning to their To Do list hoping to make the holidays memorable for their families. While other families are out looking for that perfect gift for their wife or husband, our PTSD veterans feel overwhelmed and trapped, remaining in the safety of their homes. On Christmas morning, or during Hanukkah, it is the caregiver who often doesn't receive a gift. The goal in helping these veteran families is to show America's gratitude with a gift for the caregiver and a grocery gift card or prepaid VISA card to help them purchase their holiday dinner and trimmings. This is a wonderful way to say "Thank You" to these amazing caregivers.
- Homefront America (Camp Pendleton, CA and surrounding military communities) Each year, the Homefront America Christmas programs help to make the holiday a little brighter for military families. Our Christmas Toy Store offers parents of military children the opportunity to "shop" at the Toy Store at NO COST to them, while their children enjoy lunch with Santa and his Elves, arts and crafts, activities, face painting, and caroling. In addition, our volunteers fill 1000 gift bags with a dozen or more quality "fun toys" for the children to enjoy. And, with the support of our partners, Noble Viking Charities of Orange County, 150 families benefit from generous offerings of holiday food boxes.
- Hope for the Warriors Holiday Giving Initiative Be a spark of HOPE this holiday season by donating to or adopting a family through our Holiday Giving Initiative. You can become Santa and help us provide gifts to brighten a military child's day. This national program is open to post-9/11 wounded or Gold Star military families that are struggling financially during the holidays. Each service member referred to the Holiday Giving Initiative has completed the Hope For The Warriors application process and have been contacted by our Critical Care team. The application process can be completed on our website. Upon referral, the families are asked to complete a wish list for each child under the age of 18. The wish lists are then provided to interested donors to fulfill.
- La Mesa Military Families Holiday Project (La Mesa, CA) Each year the Chamber members, friends and family donate new, unwrapped toys and items for our La Mesa military families. We are thrilled to again coordinate this project with Lincoln Military Housing, who facilitates holiday events for over 2,000 military children within our region. The children living in La Mesa military housing are between the ages of 2-13 years old. This year will be a bit different, as we won’t be at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse for our mixer and holiday party! The pandemic has forced us to change the way we collect the toys, diapers and other items this year.
- Maine National Guard Family Program's Christmas Across Maine 2020 (Maine) Christmas Across Maine is a completely confidential needs based program for currently serving Maine military members, their families, and Gold Star families. The program provides assistance for service members experiencing financial difficulties. All items are donated by the community, therefore we can only support a limited numbers of requests. Become a Sponsor today! Email - [email protected] or call the Maine Military Family Assistance Center 1-888-365-9287 Sponsor info - LINK, Participant info - LINK
- Michigan National Guard Family Adopt-A-Family Program (Michigan) Many guard members are serving overseas while their families are trying to make the best of the holiday season without them. The Michigan National Guard Adopt-A-Family Program is an opportunity for organizations and families to reach out and support a guard member and their family. The Adopt-A-Family Program, coordinated through the state family program office in Lansing, is seeking organizations and families interested in sponsoring a Michigan National Guard family. Applications for both families and sponsors/contributors will be matched up to meet the needs of both parties. This is a safe and confidential way for families to receive support. Support may be in the form of money, food or mentorship. Traditionally, families have received Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets. Christmas gifts have included a clothing outfit for each family member and a few toys for each child. Organizations and businesses who would like to adopt-a-family or need more information should contact the family program office at (517) 702-5116/5117.
- Military Assistance Mission (Arizona) Operation Christmas Giving - If you have attended, donated, volunteered or supported Military Assistance Mission’s end of year holiday event for military families, you will notice a few key changes this year due to Covid. Rest assured, all those changes will not inhibit the spirit of the season! We will have Santa, Christmas decorations, Christmas Carolers, Super Heroes and so much more! In years past families have arrived and “shopped” through our items.
- Military Installations Christmas holiday support at local installations may include food baskets, holiday meals, toy donation, fellowship, or entertainment. Contact the family center at your nearest installation to inquire of any opportunities for you and your family.
- Mountain Post Santa's Workshop (Fort Carson, CO) The mission of Mountain Post Santa's Workshop is to provide toys, books, and games for children of Military families on The Mountain Post, in financial need, during the holiday season. Many of the recipients would not be able to provide any toys for their children without the help of the wonderful supporters and donors of Santa’s Workshop. Our organization is run solely by volunteers. Volunteers work year round in order to purchase, raise funds, organize, inventory, and select families that require assistance.
- Newby-ginnings of North Idaho, Inc (Spokane Valley, WA) 7th Annual Adopt a Family Christmas program in support of veteran, active service member, and Gold Star families. To adopt a family, please contact Newby-Ginnings by December 9, 2020.
- Operation Christmas Spirit (Operation Help a Hero) Operation Christmas Spirit is Operation Help a Hero's annual project which supports local military families in the form of holiday gratitude. Through Operation Christmas Spirit we: "adopt" over 100 families and fulfill their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members and gift cards to do their own shopping, sponsor gifts and crafts at unit holiday parties for military children, "adopt" single Marines and Sailors, giving them gifts and gifts cards to celebrate whether near or far from their families, and work with businesses, schools, churches, small groups and individuals who want to spread the joy of Christmas to those who serve our country.
- Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military Operation Homefront's Holiday Meals for Military primarily helps junior enlisted military families (E1-E6) celebrate the holidays by providing them with healthy fixings for a traditional holiday meal. Military families, visit this LINK to view event locations and to register for an event. Be sure to follow Operation Homefront on Facebook for updates regarding this event: www.facebook.com/OperationHomefront
- Operation Homefront and Dollar Tree Holiday Toy Drive Looking forward to Operation Homefront's 2020 HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE as we distribute toys and gift cards to hundreds of military kids! Millions of toys were donated at Dollar Tree stores nationwide. These items and other holiday gifts were distributed, through our events and local FRGs and community events, to our most junior service members to show our Nation’s appreciation and supplement the family holiday. Military families, visit this LINK to view event locations and to register for an event.
- Operation Once in a Lifetime Toys for Troops The holidays are fast approaching and Operation Once in a Lifetime receives thousands of requests from active military families and military veteran families needing a little hand up and help for the holidays. These requests vary from families needing help with toys, meals and help getting home for the holidays, especially from those families stationed overseas. Help us help those that have sacrificed so much for others. You can donate online, as well as donate toys at our various drop off locations. Donations are tax deductible. For more information on how you can help, to find the nearest Toys For Troops drop off location or to donate airline miles to help fly service members home for the holidays, please email [email protected].
- Operation Toy Soldier Operation Toy Soldier is a nationwide initiative by Veterans Funeral Care to provide toys to the children of deployed and non-deployed soldiers, and also the children of soldiers that have just returned home. On our website, we have listed all of the participating Veterans Funeral Care affiliates will be listed along with event pictures, drop off locations, etc. It is very important to us that you understand that even though Operation Toy Soldier is a nationwide toy drive, all the toys you donate STAY LOCAL.
- Operation Ward 57 Holidays can be particularly difficult for patients who are unable to leave the wards or hospital. OPW57 creates morale and spirit boosting events and gifts for patients, families and staff. With your support we have been able to provide live music directly on the ward and for outpatient families, flowers, hot catered meals, gift bags, toys, gift baskets and more throughout the year.
- Operation Ward 57 Adopt A Wounded Warrior/Gold Star Family 2020 Our goal is to help wounded warrior military families and Gold Star families in need with Christmas and Hanukkah presents for their children, along with a grocery gift card or prepaid Visa gift card for the family to purchase their holiday dinner and trimmings. This is a great way to connect one on one with wounded warrior military families or gold star families to offer a special Thank You this holiday season by providing food and gifts. Sponsor families, businesses, organizations or individuals who sign up here will be matched with a wounded warrior or Gold Star military family to help them have a great holiday meal and presents for their children. Those eligible for adoption include U.S. Based active duty military personnel, career or medically retired military, or those honorably discharged from service who have been injured, wounded or acquired a disease during service with a 50% or higher service connection. Priority to post 9/11 service members & Gold Star families. Eligibility is also extended to the immediate family members if they are a caregiver or NMA. Post 9/11 Gold Star families are also welcome to apply.
- Project Lifting Spirits Veterans' Santas - Often, when a troop is wounded, the one thing they really miss being able to do is provide a gift for their own child. We will be trying to see to it that every wounded service member in our area has a gift on hand to give his/her child when they come to visit "Daddy" or "Mommy" at the hospital. We will offer this year round, so the service member has a gift for that all-important first visit with their child after returning home, for the child's birthday's and of course at Christmas.
- Project New Hope Inc. - Operation Jeepers Christmas (Worcester, MA) Project New Hope Inc. (PNH) “Operation Jeepers Christmas” offers an adopt-a-family program. Military & Veteran families who can show proof of need submit their wish lists to PNH and donors adopt the families by purchasing items from their wish lists for Christmas. Giving back to the families of our servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much. Lost in the busyness of the Christmas season are the children of those who serve, who sometimes wake up Christmas morning missing mom or dad and perhaps not understanding why they can’t be there. There are two ways to participate in Project New Hope Inc. Operation Jeepers Christmas:
- 1. Donate: Donate now so we can reach as many children as possible this Christmas. Your donations are appreciated, and Project New Hope Inc. is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. All gifts are tax deductible
- 2. Adopt a Family: Make a personal connection by adopting a military or veteran family to adopt. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to teach your own children about giving and the true meaning of Christmas.
- Sign up today to help support a military family in need this holiday season. Donate between now and November 21th, 2020 and select one of our 2 locations. Registration for Operation Jeepers Christmas ends on November 21, 2020. Donors need to have all Gifts into our office by December 18, 2020
- San Bernardino Vet Center (San Bernardino, CA) San Bernardino County Christmas and holiday assistance programs. Families that are struggling in the San Bernardino area can get help during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays from churches or charities. There may be free Christmas toys, gifts, turkey dinners, clothes or food passed out. Other items can include gifts for children or home delivered meals to seniors in the region. Some of the centers may also offer free turkeys, with all the toppings, or meals during the Thanksgiving holiday as well. The enrollment period for these programs, such as Toys for Tots or Angel Tree, will usually begin in the fall, and assistance is offered on a first come and served basis.
- STEP Sharing the Joy (southern California) STEP (Support the Enlisted Project) - The holidays are here and we want to help YOUR family. We are providing financial relief to our junior enlisted and recently discharged families during the season of giving. Gifts must be delivered to STEP by December 9, 2020.
- Soldiers' Angels Military families usually live on a very tight budget, so putting together a Christmas or other winter holiday celebration can be a real challenge for some of them—Soldiers’ Angels is already hearing from hundreds of families who could use a bit of help celebrating this year. The goal in helping these military families is to show America’s gratitude with presents for the children and a grocery gift card or prepaid Visa gift card for them to purchase their holiday dinner and trimmings. Military/veteran families, registration is open now through December 7th, 2020!
- Toys for Little Troops (based in Raleigh, NC with an outreach to various military installations) Toys For Lil Troops is a program that was founded by our very own Marine Veteran, SSgt Stan Pinkus. He wanted to create a toy program that provided toys specifically to the children of low income and/or deployed troops. Every year, the US Veterans Corps delivers these toys to local military installations including, but not limited to, Fort Bragg, Camp LeJeune, Fort Lee, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, Ft Meade, Ft Stewart, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Shaw Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base, Reserves, National Guard, and many other locations. We also deliver toys year round to the children of veteran and first responder families in need through the Shop with a Cop and Shop with a Sheriff programs.
- Toys for Tots Since 1947 the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program has distributed more than 584 million toys to more than 265 million children. This program is open to all children in the community, including military kids. Families can select their state from the "Request A Toy" tab to learn about how to sign up for the program.
- **United Military Care (Marietta, GA) Are you a military or veteran family in need of Christmas holiday assistance? Pre-register to attend the Christmas store. (awaiting 2020 info)
- USO Your local USO may have holiday programs which may include free meals, entertainment, and toys to military families. Holiday festivities may include Thanksgiving dinner, breakfast with Santa, Christmas dinner, holiday food baskets, toy drives, food pantries, and more.
- Veterans Center (Atlanta, GA) Saturday, December 19, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM This is an annual Christmas event hosted to uplift rural communities, veterans, their families, children (infant to 17) and seniors citizens. We are serving 10 rural counties in Middle and South Georgia. During the celebration we assist and serve over 5000 families. Tickets are free to attend // registration required!! In order to receive a toy please register for a ticket; please complete your application online.
- VETLIFE Heroes Holiday (Howell, MI) This program helps bring holiday joy to children in need. No child should go without a gift during the holiday season which is why VETLIFE sponsors several veteran families each year by donating presents to those in need.
- **Wish for our Heroes - Wish Patrol San Antonio 2019 (San Antonio, TX) Assisting Central Texas military families during the 2019 holiday season. WISH PATROL 2019, a fun-filled evening dedicated to assisting Central Texas military families during the 2019 holiday season. The evening will include a pre-party at SWBC Corporate Headquarters in San Antonio, followed by an evening of wish-granting as supporters board buses, travel to the homes of struggling local military families, sing Christmas carols, and provide these families with the Christmas-of-a-lifetime. WHEN: Friday, December 20, 2019. Pre-Party will begin at 6:00 PM. Buses will depart at 6:45. (awaiting 2020 info)
- WNY Heroes, Inc (Western New York) Adopt a Veteran Family - Help us help veterans in need have a special holiday with our Adopt-A-Family campaign in December.
Military families, are you looking for additional Christmas holiday support?
Be sure to also visit this LINK which includes a few additional opportunities. If you are struggling with financial needs, visit this LINK. Military supporters, you may also be interested in our exhaustive listing of organizations who send CARE PACKAGES and CARDS and LETTERS to our deployed service members, wounded warrior families and veterans.
Adopt a military family during deployment
Support Military Spouses Shoeboxes for Military Spouses, the nation's only program of its kind, offers you a way of saying thanks by providing you the opportunity to prepare a shoebox gift for a military spouse.
Adopt a military family in need of financial help
See also this listing of agencies that offer financial support - LINK
Operation: Care and Comfort (San Francisco Bay area and California)
Since 2005, Operation: Care and Comfort's "Adopt a Military Family" program has assisted San Francisco Bay Area and California military families for one time support. The Bay Area is one of the most expensive areas in the country to live, and many military families struggle just to purchase groceries, gasoline and other essentials.
Civilian families, companies, and organizations may ask to be on a stand by list to anonymously assist a local military family that is brought to our attention by a military liaison. If you or your organization is selected to help, the civilian family (or company or organization) will work through the military liaison to help the military family on a one time basis with their specific need.
Tips to locate local military and veteran families to support or adopt for the holidays
Each year we receive numerous requests from military supporters who would like to support or adopt a military service member or a military or veteran family from their community, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. If you are unable to locate events (listed above) in your area, consider these tips:
- If you are located near a military installation, contact a military chaplain (Battalion Chaplain in the Army) or a Family Readiness Group Leader. Some installations run a Santa's shop program in which donations are received so military families in need can "shop" for items for their family.
LINK to directory of military installations LINK to Army family morale offices LINK to Navy Fleet and Family support centers
- Do you know of any military or veteran families personally? Ask them if they are aware of any needs. Perhaps if you ask around, you'll quickly find someone you know who knows of someone who would be encouraged by your support.
- Pay attention to local new media to learn of opportunities to support military families.
- Contact your local VFW, American Legion, AMVETs, or DAV - LINK
- Visit OWAH's local opportunity and service locator for state resource websites - LINK
Organizations that adopt and support military & veteran families for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays
Scroll down for more information about:
- Invite a service member into your home for Thanksgiving
- Thanksgiving support (meals or free turkeys) for military and veteran families
- Invite a service member into your home for Christmas
- Christmas support for military and veteran families
- Adopt a military family during deployment
- Adopt a military family in need of financial help
- Tips to locate local military and veteran families to support or "adopt" for the holidays
Copyright 2008 - 2020 Benita Koeman, Operation We Are Here. All rights reserved.
Operation We Are Here is a HUB of RESOURCES for the military community and military supporters.
Military support is not a concept to embrace; military support is sacrificial action. Visit our military support TOOLKIT.
Be sure to check out these ADDITIONAL resources:
Organizations that support
Resources for supporters of military and veteran families
- Practical insights in caring for
Military and veteran family resources
Operation We Are Here
Benita Koeman of Operation We Are Here is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. When you purchase a product that is linked to Amazon, I earn a small commission which in turn helps me to continue with my mission of providing resources to the military community and military supporters.
Listing of Veterans Day books for kids - LINK Listing of Memorial Day books for kids - LINK Listing of books about military working dogs - LINK Listing of books about the military for kids - LINK Listing of Bibles and devotionals for U.S. military, veterans and spouses - LINK