Support Our Soldiers During Christmas

US Army photo by Captain Thomas Cieslak

The holiday season is once again upon us. Most of us will spend the holidays at home, surrounded by the ones we love. Many Service Members don't have that luxury. They willingly sacrifice time with their families so you will have the freedom to enjoy time with yours: thousands of United States Military personnel deployed to foreign countries, remote sites, and ships/subs, all over the world.

There are several ways that we, safe in our homes, can help make the holidays a little brighter for those who give us our freedom.

Holiday Mail for Heroes - The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” during the holiday season. Beginning in 2114, there is no longer a national Holiday Mail for Heroes P.O. Box to which cards are sent. Instead, Red Cross chapters across the continental U.S. and Red Cross offices on military installations overseas will take complete control of the program.  Check with your local Red Cross for times and locations of events and for opportunities to get involved.

To ensure “no child is behind,” Homefront America sponsors two different programs during the holiday season:  Homefront Santa and Gifts for our Little Unsung Heroes.   Homefront Santa endeavors to match sponsors to military families.  Gifts for our Little Unsung Heroes provides each registered child with unwrapped toys and/or gift cards. In addition, holiday meals for families are also provided.


eMail Our Military is a charitable organization supporting our troops through morale boosting email, cards, letters and care packages. Troop supporters can take part in a number of support projects ranging from eMailing a service member one-on-one to general year round support projects. 

 Full Circle Home gives deployed servicemen a chance to send a gift box to their wives back home.

Gift boxes contain pampering items, such as lotions, bubble baths and spa socks. They also feature a handwritten note from the serviceman.

Operation Christmas Spirit supports local military families by: “Adopting” over 100 families and fulfilling their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members and gift cards to do their own shopping; sponsor gifts and crafts at unit holiday parties; “Adopt” single Marines and Sailors, giving them gifts and gifts cards to celebrate whether near or far from their families.

Donate to Operation Holiday Joy.  100% of your donation goes to food and toys

Operation Homefront offers many programs for military families throughout the year and Christmas. To receive a gift, you must register for your local Operation Homefront Toy Distribution. A military family may also participate in the organization’s holiday meal events and receive all of the groceries for a  Christmas dinner.

Thanks to the Marines Toys for Tots program, military and civilian children alike, have the opportunity to receive a new toy for Christmas.  Donate or request a toy.

Imagine a smiling group of U.S. troops gathered around a Christmas Tree that was grown on an American farm and express shipped to arrive fresh and green somewhere on the other side of the world, just in time for Christmas.

Or, imagine a spouse and children sharing joyous memories of Christmas through the gift of a free, real Christmas Tree while their family member is away serving our country. Tree for Troops makes this vision a reality!


Military Mail. Everybody has good intentions when selecting and sending gifts, but good intentions will carry one only so far if packages arrive too late or damaged.

To assist people in sending gifts out on time, Military Postal Service Agency experts each year publish deadlines to get cards and packages in the mail. To ensure cards and packages arrive at their destination by Christmas, experts recommend the following guidelines.

  • Packages going to military APO, FPO and DPO addresses sent by Parcel Post must be shipped by Nov. 12.
  • Space-available mail, or SAM, must be sent by Nov. 26.
  • Parcel airlift mail, or PAL, must be sent by Dec. 3.
  • First class letters and cards and packages sent by priority mail should be mailed by Dec. 10, except for AE 093 which must be sent by Dec. 3 to ensure on-time delivery.
  • Express mail must be sent by Dec. 17, except for APO/FPO/DPO AE 093 where it is unavailable.

SAM packages are first transported domestically by surface and then overseas by air on a space-available basis.

SAM parcels must be less than 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

PAL service is space-available air transportation for parcels up to 30 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined.

Special Note: Some Muslim countries (such as Saudi Arabia) have laws against displaying Christian symbols. Please keep that in mind when sending cards and letters to the Persian Gulf (Southwest Asia). You'll not want to use envelopes with Christmas decorations on them as customs may refuse to allow them to enter the country.

Additional Note:  Walter Reed Hospital DOES NOT accept Christmas cards addressed to "A Recovering American Soldier" and the U.S. Postal Service will not accept mail addressed to "Any Soldier," "Any Wounded Soldier".

And now... to help you to understand just WHY we need to remember our military during this season, I give you a poem Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986. Printed in Leatherneck (The Magazines for the Marines) in December 1991.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas,
He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I'd Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn't Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
"Santa Don't Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don't Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps."

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn't Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night's Chill.

I Didn't Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, "Carry On Santa,
It's Christmas Day, All Is Secure."

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
"Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night."

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