Holiday Gift Guide: Donations that Support and Honor

Posted by Ashley Jones

The delivery trucks are out in full swing, hurrying through town to drop off gifts at countless doorsteps. But there may be another gift to give this season that doesn’t come in a box. We’ve outlined a couple admirable non-profits to add to your gift list that support educational endeavors, provide for service members and families of the fallen, and honor our nation’s heroes. These organizations continually give cherished gifts to the communities they serve. Take a moment while your wallet is open this season and give a gift that will keep giving beyond the holidays.

CIA Officers Memorial Foundation

In 2001, CIA Officer Mike Spann was killed in Afghanistan, becoming the first American killed in the Global War on Terror following 9/11. As a husband and a father to three small children, this hero’s story sparked an outpouring of compassion and support. Donations for Spann’s family were sent to the CIA but the agency is prohibited from accepting such offerings. Agency members sought a way to mitigate this problem, ultimately giving way to the creation of the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation.

The foundation ensures that the families of CIA officers who die in the line of duty are provided for. The charity offers educational support for the children and spouses of fallen officers. Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, the organization granted over a million dollars to 49 students and has supported 132 individuals to date.

Wreaths Across America

Another tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes began when Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, had a surplus of wreaths approaching the end of the holiday season in 1992. Remembering his boyhood visit to Arlington National Cemetery, he realized he had an opportunity to honor veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. With help from Senator Olympia Snowe, he made arrangements to have his surplus wreaths placed at Arlington.

This wreath laying became an annual tribute and continued quietly for years until a photo of the decorated stones at Arlington gained attraction on the Internet in 2005. The event continued to grow as communities around the nation sought to participate too and in 2007, Wreaths Across America was formed with the mission to remember, honor, and teach. In 2014 alone, 700,000 memorial wreaths were laid by the non-profit and its network of volunteers at 1,000 locations across the nation and afar. Today Wreaths Across America continues to honor our nation’s veterans with several programs and is committed to teaching children about freedom and those who protect it.

EOD Warrior Foundation

Placing their lives in harms way, roughly 7,000 individuals serve as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians. Disarming and disposing of bombs is one of the most dangerous military occupations, but brave service members step up to the daunting task to protect others. When EOD technicians suffer wounds, they endure some of the most severe injuries, spanning loss of limbs, burns, blindness, traumatic brain injury and more.

In an effort to better support this community, the EOD Memorial Foundation and the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation merged in 2013, forming what is now the EOD Warrior Foundation. The foundation provides financial relief, education, hope and wellness, and EOD Memorial Care to active-duty, retired and veteran EOD Techs and their families, as well as EOD Warriors and family members who have been wounded, ill or injured, and families of the fallen.

Semper Fi Fund

Looking for a way to help those who protect our freedom, a group of Marine spouses welcomed wounded Marines and Sailors landing at Camp Pendleton, California, back from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. They organized activities at the hospital, distributed care packages, and arranged travel for families who couldn’t afford airfare. With wounded continuing to arrive in need of their efforts, the Semper Fi Fund was established as a national non-profit in 2004.

Today, the non-profit helps our heroes to recover, transition, and thrive through an array of proven and effective programs. The Semper Fi Fund offers a service member and family support program, a transition program, and an integrative wellness program. In 2017, the nonprofit provided $150 Million in assistance to service members of all branches of the Armed Forces.

Gary Sinise Foundation

Another vital supporter of our service members is Gary Sinise, a longstanding advocate for our nation’s heroes, widely recognized for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in Forest Gump. Looking to expand upon his individual efforts, the Gary Sinise Foundation was established in 2011 “to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs that entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.”

The foundation has several programs that support and empower the military community, including R.I.S.E., which provides home modifications, mobility devices, adapted vehicles, and one of a kind specially adapted smart homes for our most severely wounded veterans. The foundation also has many vital outreach programs including grants for emergency relief, training, and essential equipment for our firefighters, police, and EMTs.

This list is by no means comprehensive, as there are many other worthwhile charities out there to consider, each bringing hope and joy to the individuals they strive to make a difference for. Help them make the season brighter and make a contribution to a worthwhile cause today.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 16, 2019 8:29 am

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