Holiday Financial Help for Military Families
As the holiday season approaches, the National Military Family Association sees an increase in the number of phone calls and emails from military families seeking financial assistance. The family may be on a tight budget, have a deployed service member, a wounded veteran, or just need a little bit of extra help. Our Association does not have funds to give, but we try to point families to available resources. There are few national resources – most resources are available in your local community.
It is not easy for a military family to ask for financial assistance. If you find yourself or a family you know in need this holiday season, here is a list of resources we share with military families. Remember to check the eligibility requirements. Some organizations may have funding to provide assistance to a broad definition of military family; others may only have funds for deployed military families, wounded, ill, or injured military families, or veterans.
Here are some examples of what may be available:
USO – Contact your local USO and inquire about their holiday programs. Some offer free meals, entertainment, and toys to military families. Holiday festivities may include breakfast with Santa, Christmas dinner, holiday food baskets, toy drives, food pantries, and more.
Toys for Tots – Since 1947 the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program has distributed more than 452 million toys to more than 209 million children. This program is open to all children in the community, including military kids. Families can select their state from the "Request A Toy” tab to learn about how to sign up for the program.
Veterans’ Service Organizations – Many Veterans’ Service Organizations (VFW, American Legion, etc.) provide a wide variety of holiday support to service members, veterans, and their families. Programs vary, but may include holiday meals, food pantries, gift card distribution, and fellowship.
Installation Support – Holiday support at local installations also varies, but may include food baskets, holiday meals, toy donation, fellowship, or entertainment. Contact the family center at your nearest installation and ask about the support provided this year.
Local Nonprofits – The scope of support varies greatly. The nonprofit may have a regional presence, a national name, or only provide support to military families within a certain county. Operation Homefront is an example of a national nonprofit that provides regional support. In some locations they have a holiday meal program, holiday parties, and toy drives for military families. Contact your family support center for a list of nonprofits providing support to military families in your area.
The extra financial pressure of the holiday season or being far away from family and friends may add additional stress to military families. We encourage military families to be good neighbors and friends. If you notice another family in need this holiday season, help connect them with local resources. Together, we can brighten the holiday season for military families.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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