The holiday season can be filled with mixed emotions for military families. Military members are deployed or participating in training, no matter the time of year. Military families may be new to an area. Traveling can be a large expense that cannot be done, especially if a military move with added expenses was recently executed. In 2022, there are many holiday programs that plan throughout the year to support military families. If you or you know a family who could use a program, read this and pass this on.
The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) organization provides support and programs to active-duty military families throughout the year. The holiday program is no different. Operation Holiday Joy is a program that provides food and gifts to active duty and family members. Check the local branch for sign-up dates.
If you want to donate to the program or know someone who wants to, read more about donations here.
The organization adopts active duty and Gold Star families and provides them with gifts for the holiday season. The gifts range from gas cards to toys to grocery gift cards.
Unit nominations are accepted from the following bases:
– Camp Pendleton
– 29 Palms
– MCAS Miramar
– Naval Base San Diego
– MCRD San Diego
– Fort Sam Houston
– Lackland AFB
– Fort Carson
– Buckley AFB
– Joint Base MacDill
– Camp Lejeune
– New River Air Station
– Fort Belvoir
– Fort Bragg
To be an eligible active-duty family, families must be E5 or below, any rank with 4+ children, any rank with a justification of a need, or families with a legitimate need for assistance. Gold Star families with children aged 17 and under, Gold Star spouses, or guardians of Gold Star children are eligible to apply.
Applications are accepted here and are open November 1st -2nd and 15th and 16th.
Operation Homefront has two programs for military families. Holiday Meals for Military Families provide a holiday meal. Each location of Operation Homefront has different eligibility criteria and registration details. Check the link above to find an event near you and what eligibility criteria are required for your area. Some programs are open to all ranks and include veterans, and some areas are open to E1-E6 only.
Operation Homefront also has Holiday Toy Drive. Collection Bins are located at different businesses and at Dollar Tree collecting toys, and the toys are distributed based on volume.
Toys for Tots
Veterans qualify for support through Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots provides new, unwrapped toys to those in need. Apply to get a toy here.
The USO has programs all year round for military families. To find a program near you, find the USO location near you here or check out the social media for the local USO. Each USO location is different, so the programming differs. It could be a meal as a family, a meal for service members, or toy giveaways. In the past, they have had programs where children can “shop” for their parents. Each of these programs is typically open to all, but check the eligibility criteria for each program and sign up early.
Operation Ride Home
The Armed Forces YMCA has a program called Operation Ride Home. The program offers up to $500 in airfare costs and $125 for vehicle travel. Flights must be booked through the ASYMCA coordinator, and use the Command Form to apply. Applicants must be E5 and below. There is no requirement to be married or have a family; it is open to single or married service members. Apply here.
Marine Corps League
Marine Corps League locations are operated by League members, so programming differs based on the Marine Corps League office. Look for programs through the National website for which programming may be available in the local area.
The Adopt-A-Family program connects businesses and organizations to support military and veteran family members by providing holiday gifts and a grocery gift card.
Applications opened for military families on September 7th, 2022.
- Service member is deployed, are rank E1-E6, and meet income requirements
- Honorobly discharge Post-911 Wounded Ill, and Injured service members and veterans
- HUD/VASH veteran families
- All families must have a biological or step-child age 18 and under
Businesses or volunteers interested in adopting families will open October 5, 2022.
If there is a program that isn’t listed, let us know so we can update and provide that information for others!