The holiday season is my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, music, and just seeing people being happy.
As a military family, I understand that there can be some hardships regarding the holidays, though. When my children were itty bitty, we lived in Europe, and it was expensive. My partner and I utilized an Angel Tree program at the overseas installation we were at. I understand how difficult seeking help can be. The stigma behind not doing well enough financially and needing assistance can be nerve-wracking, but it is okay to seek help. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially as a military family.
In an open-ended question from our Military and Veteran Families’ Pre-Holiday Financial Needs Pulse Check in November 2020, active-duty respondents identified emotional barriers (28%) such as pride, shame, or embarrassment as the most common barrier to seeking help
Now my family donates toys to various organizations that collect toys for the holidays. I personally like The Marine Corps Reserves: Toys-for-Tots program. There are numerous drop-off and donation sites for Toys for Tots, a well-known organization focusing on military families. If you need more information on requesting a toy, please click here.
The Marine Corps Reserves: Toys for Tots program is available in all 50 states and some U.S. territories; the last donation day is Dec. 12th.
Here are some links to a few of the Toys for Tots campaigns located where our chapters are:
Quantico, VA Toys for Tots
Chicago, IL Toys for Tots
Tampa, FL Toys for Tots
Salt Lake City, UT Toys for Tots
Has anyone used Toys for Tots or the Angel Tree programs? What are your thoughts on them? Are there any other resources that you recommend for military families to use, particularly around the holiday season?
Thanks for all the resources, including some of the local options where some of our chapters are!
We never used Angel Tree or Toys for Tots, but we did receive a free holiday meal package when my husband was a lower rank and we couldn't afford it. We were so grateful for the help we received when he was a lower rank. Now, we try to give back whenever possible to help families out.
In an open-ended question from our Military and Veteran Families' Pre-Holiday Financial Needs Pulse Check in November 2020, active-duty respondents identified emotional barriers (28%) such as pride, shame, or embarrassment as the most common barrier to seeking help
I definitely agree that resources like Toys for Tots, The Giving Tree, and holiday meals are ones that many pay forward when they are in a better place. Happy to hear that you give back! Is there are particular program you prefer to use for food donations?
We love Toys for Tots and donate each year. A friend of mine who grew up in Belarus also told me in college about Operation Christmas Child and the shoebox she used to receive growing up, which was filled with little trinkets and things like soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. So, ever since my kids were born, we have had each one put together a shoebox with our local churches for a child around their age.I'd definitely recommend getting plugged in with the local churches, YMCAs, and Angel Trees if you're looking for support or if you can offer support. It's so important to help others, especially this time of year.
I love the shoebox donation. I have not heard of anyone doing that, the closest thing that I have heard of that is semi close to what you are describing is leaving your shoe outside you bedroom (in my case classroom) door and someone will come and fill your shoe with small goodies as you described above. The elementary school I attended did that. I love that you donate a shoebox with such an assortment inside, I know things like that are needed for many!
Local churches are a great resource! I have donated a lot of my kids old toys and clothing to churches. I have even donated furniture to a local church!
Blue Star Families441 Saxony The Hive/Barn 2Encinitas, CA 92024(202) 630-2583
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