Today's society is constantly on the go; meetings to get to; lunch with a friend, waiting to catch a flight, and many other daily activities that strive and compete for our precious time and energy. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our chosen work environments, and social lives, not to mention getting caught up in the media and politics of this country, and by doing so, sometimes we forget to take time out to attend to the things that demand much more of our nation's focus, especially nowadays.
Our country is at war. It is all over the news each day. It is with a heavy heart that I ask, have we forgotten about our military's personnel who are currently deployed in harm's way? It seems that with everything going on in our lives that we forget to stop and think that while we are having lunch out with friends, our men and women in uniform are eating MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat). We forget that while we are complaining about thunder storms and rain, our deployed soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors and coasties are covered in sweat, all while becoming masters of intense sand removal and are just longing for a good rain. While it may be too much of an expectation to require every American to write a letter, or send care package, the reality of the situation is that, while appreciated, this may not be completely realistic, especially in a world where we all have our needs, responsibilities, and obligations to both family and friends.
It does seem, however, that it is only around the holiday seasons that we rally together to support our troops. We get together and have bake sales, donate to worthy non-profit organizations and the like. In all reality, there is seemingly a million and one more than worthy charities that are each vying for our precious time and money. But it is not just around the holidays that we should be thinking of our men and women in uniform. Sending care packages is an activity that is not only fun, but it does not really take that much time and the end result is a warm heart and appreciation from thousands of miles away. There are many things that can go into a military care package, however, other products, like alcohol, are expressly forbidden to have on just about any base throughout Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these care packages have a specific theme, while others are filled with simple hygiene products or food. The packages received around the holidays do help our military to feel appreciated, but it is the 'just because' care packages that oftentimes mean the most.
We often wonder what it is that we can do to give back to those that give so much for us. As mentioned, military care packages are a wonderful tool that we can utilize for showing our support, but that is just skimming the surface of potential products or items that can be tailored towards this display of support. Photo albums, scrapbooks, phone cards and a many other products are all various little things that we can put together for our loved ones, in order to show them how much we support them. The inclusion of one of these products into, perhaps, a elementary school organized and assembled care package has proven to speak wonders to the recipient(s) on the other side of the massive expanse of ocean we call the Atlantic. Children oftentimes like to rally around a tangible show of support, and this also provides teachers with an awesome opportunity to get even their most withdrawn student actively engaged in learning how to help others and reach beyond their own self and needs. This can pave the way for incredible altruistic endeavors that they may pursue throughout their lives, whether they be to join in on a fight against cancer walk or further show support to our troops overseas.
If you have friends that support our military, as well, it may be a good idea to get together and contact some local businesses, and ask them if you can set up a table and have a bake sale to raise money to send our military things overseas. There are many worthy military-type nonprofit organizations that do this already, so, at the very least, you can do a Google search on organizations such as the Soldiers' Angels or AnySoldier. As a group, too, you can organize community functions such as a golf outing, or a cook out at a local park, and charge five dollars for an entry fee into the outing or for a plate of food, or give them the option of donating phone cards, flip flops, tactical gear, etc. instead of giving money. At the function, have a couple of notebooks and a box of pens, and have them sign a guest book, or write a small message to the package recipients.
At a large event like this, you can also obtain a large banner and have people sign it as well. Banners, of varying heights and sizes, can be purchased online very easily with just a simple search. While in Afghanistan, a friend once relayed to me that some civilians back home had done this and they had hung up their banner, with pride, in their chow hall. With hundreds of signatures and accompanying messages of support, proudly written in permanent marker, this banner was displayed for the complete duration of their deployment. With each pass through the chow hall line, they were immediately exposed to this sign and it really served as a continual reminder of the support that those, on the home front, had whole heartedly conveyed to them during very difficult times overseas. My friend expressed, to me, that this was the one single thing that meant the world to him while he was overseas serving in Afghanistan.
I know that life can get busy sometimes, but we all need to have a little down time, and during that time of fun, why not make it something meaningful, by helping those that are willing to give their lives for us?
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