Nov 11, 2014

25 simple ways student volunteers can support our vets

Amherst College War Memorial

Today we celebrate Veterans Day.  The most senior among us remembers the holiday originally commemorated the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month or the end of World War I—the war to end all wars.

Almost 100 years later, we have set aside this day to honor the brave men and women who served our country and risked their lives to guarantee our freedoms.

And there’s much that can be done by high school students and others who want to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our military by simply getting involved.

In addition to thousands of active military and their families living in every corner of the world, there are almost 20 million vets in need of assistance, support, and simple friendship.

And student volunteers are welcome to support organizations serving veterans and/or military families or to initiate projects within their local communities.

The contribution can be as simple as taking time to meet regularly with an elderly veteran or as complex as initiating a holiday gift drive for families living on your local military base. Often the most valuable service anyone can provide is just being there and listening.

This Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on the meaning of service.  And do something!

Here are 25 ways student volunteers can help:
  1. Visit a wounded veteran in the hospital or at a rehabilitation center.
  2. Volunteer for a local “Stand Down” event for homeless veterans.
  3. Be a “troop greeter” and welcome troops either en route to or returning home from deployment. 
  4. Start a club at your high school to adopt a platoon.
  5. Initiate a Create The Good project where you can help military families with chores, babysitting, repairs around the house or meal preparation.
  6. Organize a fundraising drive to purchase PX/BX gift certificates or calling cards for troops.
  7. Deliver meals or care packages to homebound veterans and their families.
  8. Agree to help care for or foster a pet for military personnel deployed abroad or organize a drive to find families willing to foster pets.
  9. Help a veteran tell their story through a project such as the Veteran's History Project. You can download a VHP field kit from the Library of Congress website.
  10. Volunteer for or host a fundraiser to support Homes for Our Troops, an organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans.
  11. Join with friends to send cards and letters to the troops through A Million or Operation Gratitude.
  12. Volunteer with an organization, such as Canine Companions for Independence, to provide therapy dogs to veterans.
  13. Together with your family or with the support of a school- or community-based organization, adopt a military family for the holidays.
  14. Organize your friends to offer free babysitting services to military moms who need to run errands or spend time away from the kids.
  15. Start a fundraising drive to support any one of many college scholarship programs targeted to veteran families, such as the NMCRS Gold Star Scholarship Program or the Armed Forces Children’s Education Fund. Help raise awareness of the existence of these programs through your school’s College Career Center.
  16. Set up a drop-off box for coupons and organize a coupon clipping event for mailing to military families stationed abroad.
  17. Produce newsletters for local vets and distribute them at local veterans’ hospitals or retirement homes.
  18. Host a party or put on a concert at a local VA Hospital.
  19. Arrange to send care packages through the USO, the Any Soldier Program, Treats 4 Our Troops,, or Operation Gratitude.
  20. Support your local USO and volunteer to support “signature” services and events.
  21. Create a school-based fundraising drive to support the Honor Flight Network or volunteer to support the program as a member of the ground crew or greeting team.
  22. Organize a drive to collect new and used DVD’s for veterans.
  23. Set up a drop-off site or organize a “drive” for cell phones for soldiers.
  24. Get your scout troop to pledge hours of community service to Operation Honor Cards, a project designed to support military families, service members and veterans.
  25. Say "thank you."

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