10 Simple Ways to Support Our Troops

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by: Erin Dower
If you're looking to honor our troops on Memorial Day, Labor Day, or any day, check out this list of easy but meaningful gestures. From donating cell phones and calling cards to making crafts and quilts, there are many ways to thank U.S. soldiers and their families for their sacrifice, and it's a great way to teach your kids about giving back.
Supporting Our Troops, troops in uniform holding giant US flag
Donate to the USO
The United Service Organizations has been lifting the spirits of service personnel since 1941, providing welfare, services, and fun activities for troops and their families (like live concerts for deployed soldiers). USO Treehouse specifically supports programs for the kids in military families, such as free Sesame Street Live performances — fun!
Supporting Our Troops, Care package for adopt a soldier
Send or Contribute to Care Packages
Deployed soldiers miss some of the basic comforts of home. You can "adopt" and form a special bond with one soldier by sending him care packages full of snacks, toiletries, and DVDs through programs like Soldiers' Angels.

If you can't stay in regular contact with a soldier or make a full care package for her, you can donate money toward a care package service or send individual care package items. Special Kindness In Packages (SKIP) sends care packages to deployed soldiers. They provide a great list of care package content ideas and accept donations of those items at Special Kindness In Packages, Inc., P.O. Box 276, East Bridgewater, MA 02333.

Supporting Our Troops, Holding pile of cell phones for soldiers donation
Donate a Cell Phone or Other Technology
Have a used a used cell phone or iPod that's collecting dust? Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts used cell phone donations, and Soldiers' Angels and Special Kindness In Packages (SKIP) accept cell phones, mp3 music players, and digital camera donations.
GiftCards
Give Calling Cards or Gift Cards
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service shop makes it simple for you to buy gift cards (starting at $10) and calling cards (starting at $20) to be shipped directly to a service person. SKIP, which surveys troops serving overseas to see what they need, notes that AT&T pre-paid phone cards are a most-wanted item on soldiers' wish lists.
StrugglinginSchool,SecondGradeBoyWritingwithPencil
Write a Thank-You Note
Cards and letters from back home are some of the most important gifts you could send to our troops. Besides putting a smile on a soldier's face, this is also a great opportunity to help your child learn to write a letter. Plus, it doesn't cost a thing (other than domestic postage) if you mail it to an organization like SKIP to send to a soldier for you. SKIP's mailing address is: Special Kindness In Packages, Inc., P.O. Box 276, East Bridgewater, MA 02333.
PatrioticUncleSamCraft
Send a Homemade Craft
Another inexpensive gift from the heart for our troops is a homemade craft. Your kids can make one of these cute patriotic crafts for a deployed soldier to decorate his bare space. If you're very crafty, Citizen SAM outlines ways you can knit and quilt for our troops.
Supporting Our Troops, military wedding with bride in wedding gown donation
Donate Your Wedding Gown
Is your wedding dress just taking up space in your closet? Brides Across America accepts clean and gently used wedding gowns and veils/bridal accessories to give to military brides to ease the financial burden of wedding planning. They ask that gowns be under three years old. Sorry — no poufy sleeves!
Supporting Our Troops, Sponsoring baby shower for military spouse
Sponsor a Baby Shower
Having a baby is a bright spot in a military family's life, and funding a baby shower for an Army wife or mom in the military is a kind gesture that will help them build their family nest. You can support showers for military moms through Operation Shower.
Supporting Our Troops, Army couple posing in donated portrait
Donate Your Photography Services
A soldier cherishes family photos when he's far from home. If you're a professional or highly skilled photographer, you can join the ranks of Yellow Ribbon Photographers and help military couples or families in your area by snapping complimentary shots of them.
MotherandDaughterWalkingOutdoorsHoldingHands
Support Survivors of Fallen Soldiers
Following the death of a loved one in the military, TAPS — Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors — provides bereavement support 24/7. A donation supports military families during a time of greatest need.

If you know of other great causes or ways to thank our troops, please leave a comment.