When the Iran war was going on, I wrote a letter that was delivered to a service man. I did not pick anyone in particular. I let the organization I used decide who would get it. The service man who received my letter wrote back. We continued to correspond until he went home. He told me how much it meant to get the letters. It made me smile.
Encourage your child to actively honor the military (excuse the split infinitive). There are several ways to show you care, and they are all educational.
Here are a few examples to get you started.
· Letters-I know I love to get letters in the mail, so I can only imagine how it must feel for a soldier to receive one, especially from someone they don’t know. It shows them they are being thought about. Organizations like Operation Gratitude accept letters that they will include in care packages. If you have a family member, friend, or neighbor in the military, ask for their address and send them a letter. If your child is very young, have them draw pictures. Sometimes the person who receives the letter will write back. It only takes one stamp to mail letters to our military who are overseas. Educational Opportunities: Make sure you use good grammar and punctuation. This is great real life practice on letter writing and addressing envelopes. On a map, pin point where the solider is located once you find out, if you find out. Calculate the distance from your home to their location. Learn about the country the soldier is stationed in.
· Care package-Put together a care package. Include magazines, food that won’t spoil (check to see if there are specific food items that are not accepted. I sent a care package to a service woman stationed in Iraq and p0rk rinds, which were her favorite, were not allowed), socks, boot cleaner, toiletries, cards or games, books… are easy to send and not too expensive. You can get flat rate boxes free at the local post office. Don’t forget to include a letter and maybe a picture. To increase your chances of getting a return letter, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope; a few pieces of paper; a pen; and put them in your package. There is no need for a stamp on the envelope. In your letter to the Soldier, which you also put in the box, ask him/her to drop you a quick note. The organization, Any Soldier, is a good one to use. Educational Opportunities: Research what is and isn’t accepted in care packages, and why (some have to do with culture, religious beliefs, safety, and so on). When your child shop for items to send, have them follow a budget. Give them a calculator and a notebook to keep track of the money.
· The Families At Home-Write a note to the family members who have a loved one serving in the military. We tend to forget about them. The kids of service men and women miss their parents. Educational Opportunities: Again, writing practice and addressing an envelope is the focus here. Locate the families home on a map. Calculate the distance from your home to their home, and calculate the distance from their home to their where their family member is stationed. Add all the distances up. Draw lines connecting all three locations on a map.
The best thing you can send is your SUPPORT! Tell them you are proud of them. Let them know you care. It only takes a minute, but your simple expression will make a huge impression.