In The Spirit Of The Season … Post a Comment & Help a Soldier!

My father was a sergeant in the US Army during WWII and sadly tdad-mom-f.JPGhat era of brave men are almost all gone. But while growing up, he instilled in our family a sense of respect for those who serve in the armed forces. Their daily sacrifices are only intensified during the Holiday Season when many are stationed far from home. Many soldiers have new babies they’ve yet to meet. Many have not seen their wives, fathers, mothers, sisters or brothers in over a year. Many have few or no family back home to give them support and love. My father married my mother while on a 2-day pass during the war before he was sent to the Phillipines and they spent months and months apart before they could settle down for a normal life. 

Each year I donate my time and money to a worthy cause. In the past I’ve supported, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity during Katrina, the Make a Wish Foundation for ill children, the Woman’s Rescue Mission in my own hometown, among others. This year, I’m proud to say that I’ve worked with Operation Gratitude, a non-profit organization set out to mail “care packages” showing our gratitude to American soldiers all over the globe.

Last week my husband and I worked on the assembly line, filling Flax Rate boxes with DVD’s, Girl Scout Cookies, headphones, magazines, candy, hand lotion, chapstick, og.jpgbatteries and an array of necessities and frivolties the soldiers rarely receive, amid hundreds of volunteers. The assembly line process is well-honed from the years since 911 when one woman, Carolyn Blashek started this great charity and I’m proud to say we sent out 4,000 boxes the morning I worked. An astounding 298,000 boxes have been sent since 911 and I plan to be there when we send out the 300,000 box. 

Anyone recognize the celebrity helping on the assembly line?133benaffleck.jpg

So today, my question is what charity do you find near and dear to your heart? Do you have a favorite and would you care to share with us a story that has inspired you?

For each person who comments, I’ll be donating $1 to Operation Gratitude in my father’s memory as well as another morning of service to get those packages out to our soldiers before Christmas.

I’ll also pick from a random drawing to send TWO LUCKY winners a book from my back list as a thank you for blogging with me this year.

To learn more about Operation Gratitude click HERE.

 I’ll be checking in during the next weeks, but this is my last official blog of 2007, but we do have some fun things planned so keep visiting us.

I’ve enjoyed meeting each and everyone of you and I wish you all a safe and joyful holiday!

Happy Trails and Happy Reading!

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39 thoughts on “In The Spirit Of The Season … Post a Comment & Help a Soldier!”

  1. God bless you, Charlene! 🙂 (Is that Ben Affleck?)

    Autism Speaks is near and dear to my heart as my son has an autistic spectrum disorder called PDD. I keep hoping and praying that perhaps one day they will find a cure.

  2. Hi Charlene. Wonderful Post! I religiously give to the Muscular Distrophy Assn. I’ve seen for myself what they do for the children, and it’s amazing. I had a friend in Texas who had two sons with MD. They provided not only the wheelcahirs and other devices needed, but also medical care and eventually even the iron lungs in the home that the boys had to sleep in.

    My daughter has a rare genetic disorder that has left her severely handicapped. She doesn’t have MD, but still they gave her her first wheelchair 26 years ago and clinic visits with a specialist. No charge. I am a firm believer in this charity and know that the money donated really does help a lot of children who need it in the very worst way.

  3. Last night my husband hunted around and found several old cellphones. I don’t know where he got it but he had this little plastic bag, addressed and pre-paid postage, and he said the package was to send cell phones to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Se we sent those off this morning.
    I also read a new article yesterday, I can’t find it this morning, that said some Veteran’s Charities do a terrible job of passing on their donations, one of them spent 91% on Expenses and actually sent on 9%. So be careful where you donate.

  4. Hi Andrea — Yes, that’s Ben Affleck on the line. It always helps bring awareness to the organization when a celebrity is a part of it. There was lots of hoopla and film crews taking pics of him and doing interviews, which can only help the cause.
    Autism Speaks is a great organization. I do hope they will someday learn more about Autism. There’s such ambiguity about the causes right now.

  5. Dear Devon,
    Sorry if this message came thru twice. I hit the button by mistake. 🙂

    It’s heartwarming to hear about how charities, and in your case, MDA has helped your child. We always want to know that our hard-earned money is used by the charity in good ways. There is a website to go to to find out how the charity uses your money.(I can’t recall the site now) I actually needed this info for a Desire Continuity I wrote where my heroine was a charity organizer. I learned a good deal about charities then.
    I’m thankful that MDA has helped your daughter. I hope she’s doing well.

  6. Hi Mary – We’re saving our old cellphones too and will donate them to the military. It’s amazing how gratful the soldiers are to receive the packages. What’s wonderful about this organization is that we work the line and SEE the boxes being made, filled, taped up, addressed and shipped off in postal trucks. I think that’s what is so gratifying for the volunteers. Those Flat Rate boxes cost $8.95 each and most of the money raised is for postage. All else is donated by corporate sponsors and the private sector like you and me.
    And yes, I agree that we need to really check out the organization before donating. I think I’ve been scammed in my younger days, but I’m more cautious now. 🙂

  7. What a heart-felt post, Charlene. We support our local rescue mission, Make a Wish, and children’s cancer. I also an an animal nut and a member of the humane society. I recently “adopted” a polar bear, and I am also the proud “parent” of a sea turtle, and two donkeys at an Israel refuge. We live nere a naval base and the local paper is full these days of stories of sailors deploying or, thankfully, returning from their assignments to the open arms of their loved ones.

  8. There isn’t just one charity I find near and dear to my heart, but the Finnish veterans without whom we wouldn’t be celebrating our 90th year of independence now here in Finland are definitely among those for whom I’m willing to give away my euros.

  9. Hi Tanya- I know how much you love animals! You are always adopting one! What’s the polar bear’s name? Do you get to name him? Great charities you’re involved with. Thanks for stopping by this morning!

  10. but how do they do it with the cell phones, Charlene? Does someone donate … minutes? Or do the soldiers have to buy a plan themselves? I’ve heard of donating phone cards for soldiers, can they use those on a cell phone?

  11. There are so many wonderful charities to support and one of my favorites at this time of year is Toys4Tots. I shop Amazons toys sales, among others, during the year and stockpile in the basement. I have a nice sized donation ready to drop off this weekend.

  12. Mary – I’m not sure either. I know my husband has been saving them and we’ll take them in tomorrow and I’ll find out. I never asked!
    Sometimes, we do put ATandT phone cards in the packages – I’ve seen that.

  13. Hi Charlene…doing my last online ordering right now LOL so stopped by here first. I picked the name Tawny in memory of our precious yellow Lab who crossed the rainbow bridge three years ago. I’m also dopping off some Toys4Tots later on today when I’m out and about.

  14. Karen B — That’s wonderful! You know, I haven’t seen one drop-off box for Toys for Tots here in southern California. True, I don’t get out that much, but I used to see so many all around. I love the idea of shopping sales throughout the year and making a large donation! It’s a great cause.

  15. What an inspiring message, Charlene. My dad was in the Navy in WWII. I was tiny at the time but I still remember his letters and what it was like having him gone.
    In addition to the local rescue mission, I support Heifer (which donates animals to people in poor areas of the world), Nature Conservancy and Best Friends, a well known pet sanctuary here in Utah. I also volunteer as a docent at our zoo, teaching children to love wild animals and protect their habitats. Some people do so much more.

  16. Oh I hope you get lots of postings!!! My husband who is a Vietnam vet and I belong to the American Legion. He has been the Vice Commander for the past 3 years and his main duty (amongst others) is to be in charge of all the events/parties. There are lots of them from veterans day to kids parties, picnics to car cruises, etc.. They have dinners and there’s always something for those who have no where else to go during the holidays. We’ve shopped for 200 kids and made many meals. It’s year long and a wonderful way to give back.

  17. This is a wonderful post! I have some veterans in my family so I understand wanting to help. I give to the American Diabetes Association because the disease runs in my family and both my mom and aunt are diabetic. I also drop off bags of dog food and treats at my animal shelter run by ARF (which is where I got my spoiled mutt) and I give to the Salvation Army. SA has been a benefit to my job, when we have homeless people they help find them places to stay. The American Red Cross has also been wonderful in my area but I know that more money gets to the needy through SA.

  18. Charlene, surely your crown will be 24K gold! You’ve earned it. I was touched by the story of your father and the sacrifices he made for our country. So many service men and women will be away from home this Christmas and that breaks my heart. They are worthy of our attention. I pray that God blesses each and every one.

    The charities I’ve put at the top of my list this year is Hospice who took such wonderful care of my husband during the last days of his life. They also supported me afterward and helped me deal with my grief and the changes my life took. They are surely angels of mercy. I also support the Children’s Orphanage Society. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than thinking of all those kids who have no one to love or care for them. The saddest thing of all would be waking up Christmas morning to emptiness. No gifts, no singing, no laughter. I may not be able to take care of them all, but I will do what I can.

    Thank you, Charlene, for such a thoughtful post. Say hello to Ben Affleck for me! 🙂

  19. Hi Elizabeth – Your father was one in a great generation of service to our country. I used to only put our flag up on holidays, but now, my flag stays up all year long, until the troops come home from the war.
    I recently rec’d a gift from Heifer, in my name from a friend. I must admit I hadn’t heard of it before. I will say YOU do plenty for charity. And I love that you are docent for a zoo. What a great way to donate, teaching children about wildlife. Hmmm, sounds like the makings of a good contemporary story!! Thanks for your sweet comments.

  20. Hi Jeanne – thank your husband for me for his service to the country and what you both do is very commendable. The veterans deserve so much. What a great way to donate your time and energy! The American Legion is a wonderful organization.

  21. Dear Lynn/Elsandra – It’s good to know that the Salvation Army gets the funds and goods to the people who really need it. I’ve contributed to them before. Sorry to hear your family members are afflicted with diabetes. They are making great strides now through the Diabetes foundations.

  22. Hi Linda- Oh, you’re sooo right about Hospice. I’m glad they were there for you when you lost your husband. They helped us so much when my mother was ill and what some people don’t know is that they are there for you after, during your grieving time. They are kind and caring and helped my sister and I so much when we really needed it. It’s great that you donate to them. And what can I say about helping the Children’s Orphanage Society? The very image of those children without love in their lives hurts my heart. Two very worthy charities…
    Thanks for your kind comments.

  23. Hi Charlene,
    We support several organizations through our church. Some are the local homeless shelter, disaster assistance and Heifer International which supplies animals to families so they can farm and feed themselves.

  24. Hi Maureen – I keep hearing about Heifer International. Is this something newer? I think it’s a great idea, but where did it originate? Anybody know? (Have I been out of the loop or what?) 🙂

  25. What a great post, Charlene! We have a number of charities that we contribute to throughout the year, namely St Jude Children’s Hospital, Holt International and the Smile Train.

    I have a friend who has worked at a non-profit for many years and she suggests that you ask the charity how much of each dollar goes to administration vs. the charitable work.

  26. What a wonderful thing to do!

    I am a fan of the Ronald McDonald House. When my sis-in-law went into labor with my twin nephews 10 weeks early, they had to take her by ambulance to another city with a hospital with a NICU…their small-town hospital was not able to handle it. The twins each weighed a little over 3 lbs when they were born. Because of their size and because they were premature, they had to stay in the hospital for several weeks. Since my brother and sis-in-law lived in another city (a few hours away) they couldn’t figure out how they could afford to stay for so long and be with them. The Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital allowed them to stay there and really helped them out. So that is why it is a special charity to me.

    I also send care packages to the troops each year. I know it must be difficult to be away from your families during the holidays.

  27. I love the idea of donating after the number of comments.

    I don’t have a particular charity in mind, but I know I do a lot of volunteering in my local hospital where I started a reading club with friends and we also play games, see movies… with patients 🙂

  28. I know that any charity dealing with cancer, especially breast cancer is one that makes me stop and donate… because I know breast cancer is such a deadly disease and any woman is at risk!!

  29. What a wonderful post and a thing to do. Hubby and I donate to a number of charities. Hubby is a veteran so we donate money to causes for veterans, also Catholic Charities and around this time of the year we also donate to Toys for Tots.

  30. Estella and Jennifer and Julie – Thanks for your comments and kind words. It seems everyone has their favorite charities and that’s a good thing, spreading the help around the country and world! I think we’ve named most of the major ones here today and many others that I’d love to learn more about.

  31. Lily – I love that you started a reading group in the hospital. Did you know that I work part-time teaching childbirth and parenting classes in our local hospital? It gets me off the computer and out with real people! We have such marvelous volunteers at our hospital. We’re going to volunteer more when we retire.

  32. Hi Nathalie – Yes, I always donate to Cancer Funds. I think we all know of someone, or have lost someone close to us from cancer. My cousin and two good friends have breast cancer, but thankfully they are over treatment and on their way to recovery.

  33. Jennifer – I meant to say that I enjoyed hearing the story about Ronald McDonald House and how they helped your sister-in-law. Must have been a blessing to them. How are the twins doing? Are they much older now?

  34. I know volunteering gives me such a great feeling… and I am a med student, so it also gets me to talk with patients outside my role as one of their caregiver.

  35. Being from Memphis, my favorite charity is St. Judes which provides free care for children with cancer as well as cancer research. My second favorite is Best Friends, a fantastic animal rescue organization that was deeply involved in rescuing animals in New Orleans as well as Lebanon after the war.

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