Nowhere does the old saying “no man is an island” ring truer than in communities that know the value of support and offer help before those who need it have to ask. So how would a young mom feel in an entirely new neighborhood, faced with a flooded basement or a split tree trunk after a storm, while her husband is deployed thousands of miles away?
The answer would depend on whether or not the neighbors are rushing in to help her deal with the calamity.
Military families are built on strength, independence, and a great deal of support. We learn to rely on each other, find friends among strangers, and strive to contribute wherever we go.
As such, we know just how much a helping hand can reshape an entire community and having experienced many neighborhoods flock to offer their help and unreserved support, it’s only natural that we wish to give something back – and here’s how you can.
Sometimes the most valuable thing you can donate is your time. Ask around and see if a particular group needs assistance, whether it’s a local soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or a nursing home, so that you can see where you can do good alongside your family.
Even the kids can take part in this type of work, by creating care packages, cleaning your street or the nearby natural reserve, making birthday boxes, and cooking meals with you to share with those in need. You can even collect extra clothes, shoes, and other basics that you have and pass them on to appropriate organizations. Keep in mind that you can do so much for veterans as a family, and together with your community, you can help them through financial and emotional support, or sending a care package every now and then.
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If there’s a particular cause close to your heart, without a designated organization handling it in your neighborhood, why not take initiative and set up something with others in your community? It can be anything from an emergency blood drive, a bake-off, an auction – you name it, if it can inspire people to unite and work together, you’ll be well on your way to make a difference.
While these often start as a one-off event when organized by a handful of individuals, don’t be surprised if your effort turns into a local tradition. In fact, nurturing such annual or more frequent actions will build an even more generous community, wherever you go with your family. Give them the tools to continue achieving the same wonderful things even after your next relocation.
Empower and educate
Military or not, all families deserve equal access to various levels of education, and too many of them cannot afford colleges or even high-school for their little ones. If you are lucky enough to have this privilege, do your best to help those who don’t by sharing your own skills. Offering free tutoring services, passing on used books from your kids’ college, and the like can make a tremendous difference.
Then again, if there are disadvantaged families with no resources to educate their kids altogether, help them find high school scholarships to give their kids a chance to improve the quality of their lives. You’d be surprised at the number of people still without internet access or a computer, something we consider basic amenities in the modern age.
Photo by Alexis Brown
Help the furry ones
If the particular community you currently reside in has a problem with stray animals, then by all means, be a role model to your children and show them the proper way to treat all living beings – with care and kindness. If you have the means, you can adopt and neuter a pooch, donate funds or a bag of food to a shelter, or offer to sponsor a particular furry friend.
Depending on where you live, if you have dogs or kittens living in the streets in different neighborhoods, you can make little houses for them to spend their winters in, bring them leftover food, and make sure they have fresh water during summer. Also, remember that our wonderful K-9s can be service dogs too, and they deserve a beautiful life after retirement, which leaves us with an opportunity to show our gratitude for the lucky ones who come back.
You already know the value of collective support as a military family member. Both in times of crises and joy, we can work together to build a better future for our communities one kind choice at a time and teach our kids the importance of making a difference.