November 11 is Veterans Day – an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about gratitude before Thanksgiving even rolls around. Inspire your kids to say thanks to our soldiers and veterans by involving them in a family giving project this month. Here are ten ways your family can partner with local and national organizations to help military families:
MAKE BEDTIME STORIES HAPPEN
Help a soldier read a bedtime story to his kids back home through United Through Reading’s military program. A soldier heading overseas can record himself reading a book to his kids, and USO DFW will send the recording and the book back to the soldier’s family. So round up your kiddos for a trip to the bookstore and let them pick out some of their own favorite books to share. New books can be dropped off at the USO offices at the DFW Airport, Terminal B, Gate 14 (no need to go through security).
DONATE FREQUENT FLIER MILES
Consider donating your family’s frequent flier miles (hello, holiday travel!) to Fisher House’s Hero Miles Program. Your donation covers round-trip airfare for family members to visit wounded service members in treatment at VA hospitals. Click here to learn more ways to donate.
TRAIN A FURRY FRIEND
Rockwall-based Patriot PAWS trains service dogs for disabled veterans, and they need families to help socialize the puppies. Full-time puppy raisers keep a puppy for 3–4 months and attend twice-monthly training sessions. Weekend puppy raisers step in when the puppies need somewhere to go just for a few days – no long-term commitment required. Patriot PAWS says that families with children are wonderful for socializing the puppies, and if you’re thinking of buying a pet this could be the perfect trial run. For more information, contact the office at 972/772-3282.
HELP KIDS WHO ARE HURTING
Irving-based Snowball Express has a special niche: kids who’ve lost parents on active duty since 9/11. Each year, Snowball Express hosts a weeklong extravaganza of activities, sporting events, dances and more to help these kids bond together, create happy memories and work through the grief that has disrupted their lives. You and your family can donate to Snowball Express to help fund this year’s event – happening at Disney World in December – or you can sponsor a child who wants to attend. Find out more information here.
GIVE TO LOCAL HOMELESS VETS
Homelessness is disproportionately high among veterans. Homeless Veterans Services of Dallas is a volunteer-driven organization that helps local vets and their families climb out of homelessness into independent living. Right now, HVSD needs donations for winter, like sweatshirts, coats and hats, so take your family shopping. Team up with a few other families to make a day of it. Then contact HVSD to arrange pick-up, or drop off your donations at the Veterans Resource Center (4900 S. Lancaster Road, Dallas).
SEND A SPECIAL GIFT
Operation Gratitude collects letters and handmade cards to send to soldiers and veterans. Your kids can also help round up Beanie Babies, Webkinz and other plush toys to include in care packages for military overseas. Soldiers appreciate the comforting toys, and they sometimes give the toys to the children they meet in exchange for life-saving information. Once you’ve collected your menagerie, visit this page for shipping information.
Military families overseas can use manufacturer’s coupons up to 6 months after their expiration dates. So set your family up with scissors and get clipping. Coups For Troups, founded by mom-of-two Stephanie Almasy, will take your coupons and ship them worldwide. Click here for more information about sending off your coupons.
THROW A BABY SHOWER
Operation Top Knot throws virtual baby showers for expecting military families. Armed with crafting supplies, the OTK Angels shower each mom-to-be with baskets full of baby necessities as well as homemade blankets, onesies, hats, bibs and other gifts. Join a team through Soldiers’ Angels.
SEND A THANK-YOU NOTE
Wounded Warrior Project has made it easy to send thank-you notes to servicemen and women who were wounded in action. Visit the WWP Facebook page to select a design and type a brief message. The process only takes a minute, so this is a great way to teach your on-the-go family about saying thanks.
SHARE THEIR STORIES
The U.S. Congress-founded Veterans History Project is an ongoing archive of first-hand accounts of American veterans who served in major conflicts and wars of the past century. Make sure that these experiences aren’t lost to the passing of time by conducting an interview with a local service member. Visit this page to learn more about how to participate in the project.