Sunday, October 29, 2017

Season of Giving and our Veterans

Some people might think the season of giving starts on Halloween when you’re at your door handing out candy to all the little ghouls and goblins that come trick or treating. Most people believe the season of giving begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues until the day after Christmas.

Me? I’m different. I believe in giving every single month, week, day. I am grateful every day for the people in my life; my family, friends, the complete stranger I meet.

There is one group of people I am most thankful for and I do spend more time and energy in trying to thank them and that is our Veterans. I don’t believe there is enough that can be said or done to thank the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe and free.
We are the land of the free because of the brave.

I truly believe this sentiment so every year I save my change and dollars and this year my fives so that I can give back and say thank you to the service men and women. There are two things I do this time of year.

1.       On Veterans’ Day I go to a local business (Just Naturals ( in Bedford, NH) owned by a friend of mine who puts up a Veteran’s gift tree. On that tree are tags with the first name of a retired Veteran in a home. It lists his or her first name, age, and branch of service. It also has a list of what that Veteran would like for Christmas. I take anywhere from 5 to 10 tags and then I get to play Santa Claus…or in my case, Denise Claus.
I shop! I find everything they want on their list, and let me tell you, those lists are pretty simple. Usually they ask for modest items like Gold Bond Powder, candy and cookies, books, winter hat and gloves, and last year there was a demand for sweatshirts. Oh, and last year several gentlemen wanted after shave. Who knew guys still use that. After the shopping is done then all my friends who also go pull from the Christmas tree come to my house and we wrap. We make it all pretty and put in gigantic gift bags. Then we deliver back to Just Naturals for them to give to the Veteran’s homes and our retired heroes.

2.       Also at this time of year, I pull together (with the help of my friends) items for our At-Risk Veterans. These are the Veterans who are either homeless or just getting off the streets and need an extra boost. For this, I go to local Veterans shelter and check their wishlist or I can also choose from the other tree that Karen puts out at Just Naturals, which is a list of items a local shelter is in need of for our Veterans. Or, hey, be like me do both!!
Again, time to shop! Here is the thing about this list, while some of the items like rain jacket, backpacks, and even socks, warm socks can add up there are other items on the wishlist; toiletries, food products like Ramen Noodles, Peanut Butter, Mac & Cheese, Granola and Protein Bars that don’t break the bank. Any of those items make a difference.

Last year we pulled together 25 waterproof backpacks filled with toiletries, food, fleece blanket, scarf, flannel shirts and socks. According to Karen, the man from the Veterans’ shelter who picked everything up was filled with so much joy that his eyes overfilled with tears.

We delivered another 30 pull string packs filled with toiletries, food, and socks to the Liberty House ( in Manchester, NH; a local Veterans shelter.

What will this cost you? Time. But isn’t it time well spent when you are buying something for someone who is so deserving. Money. A few pennies really. Let’s face it folks, you can buy a bottle of shampoo, bar of soap, a box of Mac & Cheese, or even a pair of socks for less than $1 each.

Now you know why I save all my change and my dollars. It goes a long way and benefits the greatest group of people.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Makes you want to get up and do something to say thank you to all our Veteran heroes! Great because we have a lot of work today and an even bigger goal this year, but I know if we pull together, we can do this.

This year I would like to see us give 100 bags to the Veterans.

Why 100? Because I found this amazing group of people I reached out to called Warmth for Warriors ( I was searching for hats for our Veterans and found their site. What’s special about this organization? Well, they hand knit every one of their hats to send to our active military. I found that to be completely amazing! I also wondered, well, if they would do that for active military would they do that for our Veterans? Why not ask. This is key, folks. You never know if you don’t ask.

I asked and I swear to you in 15 minutes I had a response. They were intrigued because no one had reached out to them before, but hey, why not support our service men and women at home as well as abroad. Ten days later I had two boxes of HANDMADE hats! I thanked them for their generosity and decided that if they could give me 100 hats then we could put together 100 bags for our Veterans.

Ready to help? Here’s how:

Run to the bank and cash in all your loose change or the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store or drugstore, or clothing store take whatever money you have in your pocket and trade it in for any of the following.

Toiletries:                                                                           Food:                                                   

Shampoo                                                                            Peanut Butter                                                   
Conditioner                                                                        Mac & Cheese                                                  
Toothpaste                                                                         Ramen Noodles
Toothbrush                                                                         Canned Tuna or Chicken
Shaving Cream                                                                   Canned Soup
Disposable Razors                                                             Pasta and Sauce
Deodorant                                                                          Granola Bars
Body Wash                                                                         Protein Bars
                                                                                             Canned Vegetables
                                                                                             Fruit Cups

** HINT – for toiletries and food items I have found the best deals at Walmart or my local grocery store.

Clothing:                                                                             Other:

Warm Socks                                                                       Backpacks
Rain Jacket                                                                         Sleeping Bags
Fleece Jacket                                                                      Blankets
Gloves/Hats/Scarves                                                        Can Openers
Winter Clothing/Outerwear                                           Tarps
Thermal Underwear                                                        Hand Warmers
Sneakers (all sizes)                                                           Dunkin Donuts Gift Cards
Thermal shirts (all sizes)
Men’s Boxers (all sizes)
Winter or Work Boots (all sizes)

** HINT – I just discovered a place that has all kinds of socks and they are MADE IN THE USA. Checkout this place:

You’d be amazed how many businesses will give a little extra discount if you tell them it’s for the Veterans. Last year when shopping two different cashiers at my local Macy’s gave me an extra 20% off.

Also, look for the buy one - get one type deals.

If you are like me and want to do as much as possible for as many as possible then search the web for wholesale deals.

Last year for toothbrushes I found a company called Vitality Medical

For the drawstring bags and backpacks I discovered a website called 24 Hour Wristbands (  

Check with your local shoe store if they have any leftover, last season (NEW) shoes they would be willing to donate or give a deep discount. Remind them that they are just sucking up space anyway so why not give them as a way to say thanks to a local hero.

These are just some of the things I’ve learned and discovered. Have fun with it and let me know when you have something you want to add to the bags or if you have a bag you want to give.

One more thing to note. If you can’t afford to give anything, no worries, but do me a favor and when you see one of those men or women who have served this country say, THANK YOU. Those two little words mean a lot. And if saying thank you to a stranger makes you nervous, or you’re shy like me, then try handing a Veteran a little thank you card or leaving a note on his or her windshield. Here’s a place called Operation Thank You (  I found where you can order a few cards.

Before you go…THANK YOU! Thank you for helping me reach my goal and for saying thanks to our HEROES, our Veterans.

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