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Show Them You Care

May is National Military appreciation month. We handpicked 10 top organizations that can help your family show its support for our men and women in uniform, as well as their loved ones on the home front.

By Lambeth Hochwald | null , null

1. Pets for Patriots
Here’s a doggone great idea: Pets for Patriots matches homeless dogs and cats with military families looking to adopt a furry friend. The nonprofit arranges for discounts on veterinarian bills and gift cards to help pay for pet supplies. Donate or volunteer at a participating shelter.

2. Operation Write Home
Get crafty and creative: This organization collects and sends blank handmade cards — decorated by caring families across the country — to soldiers who use them to write home. Design cards, write notes, or host a card-making party.

3. K.I.D.S.
Books on Bases, Smiles on Faces promotes reading by giving books to children of military families and by stocking libraries on military bases. You can contribute new books, hold a book drive, or simply donate cash.

4. Good Grief Camps
When a child is grieving the loss of a loved one who has served, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides a shoulder to lean on. At the group’s camp retreats, kids are paired with an active-duty service member trained in supporting a bereaved child. Donate or volunteer.

5. Operation Military Kids
Deployment is tough on everyone, but kids may feel it the most. Offering recreation programs, assistance with school issues, free camp, and more, Operation Military Kids (OMK) provides support for children when a service mom or dad is away. Lend a hand in your community — each state’s OMK volunteer opportunities are unique.

6. Hugs for Soldiers
The personal touch can make all the difference to a soldier, and Hugs for Soldiers offers many ways to do it. Send a handwritten note through the Patriotic Card Drive, or volunteer your time preparing Care Packages. Sign up for the Adopt-A-Soldier program, and your family can connect with a real soldier who will receive your gifts.

7. Homes for Our Troops
Lend a hammer, a construction skill, or muscle to this nonprofit that builds adapted housing for severely wounded veterans, giving them the ability to live more independently. You can also donate money or fundraise.

8. Cell Phones for Soldiers
A familiar voice on the other end of the line is the next best thing to coming home. The prepaid calling cards and free phone services for military personnel from this nonprofit can help. Founded in 2004 by two siblings, then 12 and 13 years old, this service has since raised more than $7 million and provided over 90 million minutes of free talk time. Donate unused phones or money.

9. Pizzas for Patriots
Let’s order out! Since July 2008, this charity has shipped close to 60,000 pizzas (“Slices of Home”) to troops around the world. They also deliver to hospitalized veterans. Chip in for a pie on the website, then post a thank-you note for the troops.

10. Project Valour-IT
For wounded warriors with either physical or mental impairments there’s a laptop (including voice-controlled ones) at the ready. The project’s goal: To help veterans reintegrate, communicate, and continue their education. Donate money, care package items, books, backpacks, and more. 

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