What is your tradition for the 4th of July? Diaper bags in tow, we typically jet over to Oklahoma to enjoy humidity and patriotism with our extended family. We relish homemade ice cream sandwiches and overly-loud fireworks after decorating my grandfather’s golf cart with red, white, and blue.
Over the last few years, I’ve neglected to really communicate the beauty and blessing of freedom to my own children. I’ve been more concerned about sticking to our nap schedule on vacation.
I think my priorities have been in the wrong place.
So this year, we will be focusing on supporting the soldiers for our July service project. As a Family Service Club, we will be sending notes and gently-used books to American troops overseas as well as veterans and military families. I’m so thankful for the organization and heart behind Operation Paperback which makes it easy to send packages of books directly to those who can use and appreciate them.
As their website says, “Our service members and their families make sacrifices every day for our country. It takes so little to let them know that they are appreciated. When you donate to Operation Paperback, you will let America’s military community know that you appreciate their service and their sacrifices.”
If you want to support soldiers and their families this summer, take a look at the steps below.
WANT TO SERVE SOLDIERS IN YOUR AREA?
1. Visit a local base: If you have base close to you, contact the base and ask if you can visit the troops with your family. Ask about what you can bring that will be most encouraging to the soldiers (cards, cookies, etc.) Talk to your kids before visiting, and try to connect with and encourage as many people as possible while you are there. Building relationships is the most important part of service.
2. Send a Care Package: There are several organizations out there that enable civilians to send packages to soldiers overseas. If you can’t make it to a base, invite some friends over for a packing party, and send some goodies abroad. Check out Any Soldier or Operation Gratitude to get started. These awesome groups have sent countless packages, and their websites are super helpful.
3. Send a Shipment of Books: When soldiers have downtime, reading is a great way for them to pass the time. Operation Paperback shipped almost 2,400,000,000 to troops, veterans, and military families in 2015 alone. Visit their website and learn how to become a Volunteer Shipper. Your kids can write notes and slip them into the books that you send. You can also make this a community event and invite family and friends to join you in collecting.
4. Adopt a Soldier: If you get in touch with AdoptaPlatoon, you can adopt a soldier. What an awesome thing to do as a family! When you adopt a soldier, you are committing to encourage an individual service member by sending one card or letter each week as well as one care package each month.
It can be challenging to discuss fighting and war with our kids. As usual, I look to books to help me broach difficult topics. Here are a few informative kid-friendly books.
Hero Dad: In this book, a boy compares his Dad, a soldier, to a superhero. Reading this book would be a good way to start talking with younger kids about soldiers.
Veterans: Heroes in our Neighborhood: According to Amazon: this book “is an engaging rhyming picture book for readers of all ages that fosters mindfulness of and appreciation for the brave service men and women who are also our family, friends, and neighbors. These are the men and women who bravely served our great country and now humbly serve in our communities.” Sounds great!
US Troops Coming Home: This is an uplifting, poignant video that shows soldiers returning home to their families.
Although we will still enjoy our family fun this 4th of July, we will be more mindful that not all families have the privilege of being together. Some families are apart this summer because one member of the family is serving our country. Let’s make those soldiers and their families feel loved! If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.