The holidays are a wonderful time of year when we spend time with family and friends. We gather to share food and gifts to show appreciation to our loved ones. The holidays are also a time of reflection and gratitude.
This holiday season, share your appreciation with the veterans in your community. Our veterans have sacrificed so much to ensure our freedoms remain intact. Spend time with older veterans who may not have a family to celebrate beside. Gift the veteran in your family a us navy hat to honor their service.
Whether you intimately know a veteran or simply want to give back to those who’ve served, these eight ideas will help you show your gratitude to veterans this holiday season.
1. Visit A National Park Together This Veterans Day
What better day to celebrate the veteran in your life than Veterans Day? Visit a national park together with your family. All veterans have free entry to national parks on veterans day.
Many parks include military memorials from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and others or battlegrounds from the Revolutionary and Civil wars. National parks are the perfect example of the majesty and freedom of our country, which our military members work so hard to protect.
2. Gift Them a US Navy Hat
Custom make a US navy hat for your family member who served aboard a ship. Personalize their cap with an embroidered ship that matches the one they lived on during service. Add their regiment number, class, insignia, and rank.
A custom cap could also be an excellent gift for a child to celebrate their parent's or grandparent’s service. You could share US navy hats with the whole family to show your support for veterans wherever you go!
3. Corporate Matching Gifts
Quickly double your donation to a veterans organization like The Wounded Warriors Project or the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Many employers will match a charitable donation during the holiday season.
Ask your HR office if your company does corporate matching gifts. Encourage your co-workers to donate and raise money to support the veterans in your community.
4. Throw a Fundraising Event for a Veteran's Charity
Raise even more money for a veteran’s charity by throwing a fundraising event in person or via social media! Set up a gift-wrapping station in the mall and donate the proceeds. Have a cookie competition with veterans as judges.
Share photos of family members who have served on social media. Include a caption with a story from their service. Add a button for donations. Encourage friends and family to share their stories and see how much money you can raise.
5. Collect Food for a Local Shelter
Sadly, not all veterans are fortunate enough to have a home this holiday season. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, about 13% of homeless adults are veterans. That may seem like a small number, but considering that only 7% of the US population can claim veteran status, you realize veteran homelessness is a much larger problem.
Have a food drive and donate canned goods to a homeless shelter in your community this holiday season. Ensure that the veterans who may not have a home to turn to this Thanksgiving will still have a place to have a warm meal.
6. Volunteer on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hannukah and Spread Holiday Cheer
Take your food drive further and volunteer your time this holiday season. Help out at your local shelter and prep and serve food. Sit down with veterans in your community and ask what you can do to help.
Call your local VA hospital and ask what you could do to spread a little holiday cheer. Bring your children's class to sing carols. Stop by with some Christmas cookies, help hang some decorations, and spend time with those who can’t be with their loved ones this season.
7. Adopt a Veteran
Many older veterans in VA hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and shelters may be feeling isolated this holiday season. Do more than simply pop by for a one-time visit. Adopt a Veteran through the Elks National Veterans Service Commission.
Become the family these veterans need to thrive in their old age. Sit with them, play a game, or simply share a cup of tea and listen to their stories. Spending time with you weekly will help combat the loneliness and depression these elderly vets feel.
8. Send Holiday Care Packages to Active Military Members
Don’t forget about the active military this holiday season. Spend the day building care packages for the men and women serving overseas. Those who currently serve will miss their home and family more than ever this time of year.
Include the veterans in your life. Ask what pieces of home they craved while they were away. Include festive non-perishable items, cards, and games to spread holiday cheer.