In this season of giving, why not add a wounded warrior or deployed servicemember to your card/gift list? Not sure how? I am at your service!
Take a gander at the following:
The following email/Facebook post has been around for years: add the following to your Christmas card list: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20307. Just the other day a friend of mine on Facebook posted such a request.
Good intentions; however:
First of all, WRAMC closed last year.
Second of all, even when they were open, they would not accept cards or packages that were not addressed to a specific patient due to security reasons. At present, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland will also not accept cards or packages unless they are addressed to a specific wounded warrior.
So, although a wonderful idea to get mail to our recovering wounded warriors, the address has not been valid for years, yet it continues to circulate. I hate to think of someone going to the expense and trouble of sending a stack of cards only to have them thrown out.
If you would like the cards to reach their intended target - the actual address to send cards to our recovering wounded warriors via the Red Cross at:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456
This year the deadline is Friday, December 7th.
Holiday cards received after this date cannot be guaranteed delivery.
Be that as it may, in this season of giving, and in the event that you want to send more than just a card, let’s look at some other options.
What could you send and to where?
Also, if you have funds to spare, where could you donate them?
The answer to both is to use the non-profits/not-for-profits.
As a former family member/caregiver who was at Walter Reed during the holiday season, I can unequivocally state that if you want to send something that the patients and families can really use, I would recommend gift cards. At the hospital, in addition to the cafeterias (Main Street, The Wedge and the Main Dining Hall), we have Dunkin Donuts, Subway and McDonalds. Gift cards to those establishments as well as generic Visa/Mastercard are greatly appreciated, because eating in the hospital every day gets expensive. Additionally, Target, CVS and/or Walmart would be appreciated.
Believe it or not, candy, cookies and other yummies are given at an abundance, but they are always appreciated and many share with the floor by leaving them in the Nutrition Room. You could also send: socks (especially the warm, fuzzy slipper kind), hats, gloves, drink mixes, pudding cups, and hard candy.
If it is your choice to make a financial contribution, the following is a list of non-profits/not-for-profits who aid not only wounded warriors, but deployed military as well. There are so many more than those that are listed. A little research will reveal so many more. There is an organization that appeals to everyone. The following are those with which I or a close friend have had experience and can personally vouch for their causes.
Operation Ward 57 - Not only do they visit the ward to raise morale, they distribute blankets, shirts, hats, gift cards, etc. to wounded warriors and their families. This year, they are sponsoring two Christmas parties on two separate wards, free of charge to the wounded warriors, family and staff. They recently added a separate division to their services called Honor and Courage. Through H&C they offer peer support and encouragement. If gift cards are forwarded to them and earmarked for Walter Reed, they will be distributed to the families and wounded warriors at Walter Reed Bethesda. Although based in Seattle, they are on the ground in Maryland and offer direct support to Walter Reed. Operation Ward 57, PO Box 80055, Seattle, Washington 98108. www.operationward57.org. www.facebook.com/operationward57
Help Our Military Heroes – They provide the military wounded with fully equipped handicapped vehicles. http://www.helpourmilitaryheroes.org This group is instrumental in helping the wounded warriors to regain their independence.
Adopt-a-Solider-Platoon - In addition to visiting wounded warriors, this group adopts platoons who are deployed and sends care packages. Last year, they made a visit to Kuwait and brought Christmas trees, packages, and Washington Red Skins cheerleaders. They will accept monetary donations as well as items to include in care packages to be sent overseas. www.adoptasoldierplatoon.org/
Yellow Ribbon Fund - The YRF provides to wounded warriors and their families the following services: massages, spa days, rental cars, taxi rides; hotel rooms; tickets to sporting games, concerts and plays, lunches, dinners, golf games, duck and goose hunts, fishing trips and other activities. 4905 Del Ray Avenue, Suite 500, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, Phone: 240-223-1180.
Fisher House Foundation (and Hero Miles) - The Fisher House provides lodging free of charge for military families during illness and rehabilitation. Their Hero Miles program flies families free of charge to their loved ones. 111 Rockville Pike, Suite 420, Rockville, Maryland 20850. 888-294-8560. www.fisherhouse.org.
Aleethia Foundation - They provide weekly dinners for wounded warriors and their families, as well as other financial relief. www.Aleethia.org
iPads for Soldiers – They donate iPads to both wounded warriors and deployed military. Email: www,ipadsforsoldiers.org/contact. Website: www.ipadsforsoldiers.org
iPods for Wounded Veterans - This organization provides iPods for wounded veterans to help them through their illness and rehabilitation. 4 Heather Drive, Wilmington, MA 01887.
Our Military Kids - This wonderful group concentrates on our children. Children of deployed reservists and wounded warriors are given grants (sports, fine arts, camps and tutoring), care packages, and support while they deal with either a parent who is away or a parent who has been wounded. www.ourmilitarykids.org/
If you want to send items to be included in care packages and forwarded to deployed military, the following are the way to go:
AASP published a list of requested items/suggestions for donations. For ideas about what to send, check it out here: www.adoptasoldierplatoon.org/images/ShortGoodielist10-23-12.pdf
Operation Jersey Cares - Care packages to our deployed military. www.operationjerseycares.org.
And a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!