Image Credits: Onward State

Many colleges and universities across the United States are home to student groups, such as College Republicans, that host an annual Military Appreciation Week. This is a simple way to show gratitude to those who dedicate their lives to serving our great nation. Although no amount of care packages, donations or letters could ever be enough to thank our servicemen and women, below are a few ways to help your organization give back.

1) Send care packages

Sending essential items to deployed troops is not only helpful, but it can be a huge morale booster. The United States Postal Service offers a service that provides you with the necessary materials to ship items overseas, such as boxes and customs forms. To receive your kit, call 1-800-610-8734. Once connected with a customer service representative, ask them about the military care kit. Below is a list of approved items that can be shipped overseas:

Powdered drink mix: Instant coffee, lemonade and tea bags

Protein: Canned tuna fish, protein bars, nuts or peanut butter

Toiletries and personal care: Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, cotton swabs, shaving lotion, disposable razors, shampoo, individually packaged tissues, individually packaged baby wipes, eye drops, lip balm, lotion, aspirin or other pain reliever, feminine hygiene products for women

Entertainment: Comic books, crossword or Sudoku puzzles and writing materials

For more ideas on what is approved to send overseas, click here for a comprehensive list.

2) Write letters

It may sound simple, but there is no better way to show gratitude than by saying “thank you.” Troops who are deployed or separated from their families will find joy in any letter they receive, even from strangers. Simply tell them a little bit about yourself and your cause. Thank them for their service. For an extra touch, include a group photo of your club holding a sign that says “thank you” to include with your letters.

3) Donate

One of the best and easiest ways to give back to servicemen and women is to donate to organizations that focus on the care of troops, both past and present. The Army Emergency Relief Fund, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, National Military Family Association and Fisher House Foundation are a few trusted charities that will ensure your money goes where it is needed. A few simple and enjoyable fundraising ideas are listed below:

50/50 Raffle: If you attend a large university like I do, raffles are an easy way to bring in a lot of profit. Sporting events and university-sponsored events are an easy way to reach a large audience at one time. Contact your student activities board for a list of events that you can fundraise at. Be sure to explain your cause to students before selling them tickets. Have plenty of volunteers from your organization to cover the most surface area.

Silent auction: Contact your university bookstore, local restaurants and shops to donate items that can be auctioned off in your student union. Assign the auctioneers numbers and watch the bidding wars begin!

Bake sale: Every town has a local coffee shop, bakery or restaurant that is adored by its residents. Oftentimes, if you contact the manager and explain your cause, he or she will donate or give you a discounted rate at which you can purchase baked goods to sell on campus. Be sure to fill out any necessary paperwork, such as food permits, before choosing this option.

With so many people who have ties to the military, sending a little bit of love overseas to our troops is easier than you think. If your club does not currently sponsor an annual Military Appreciation Week, the above steps can help you get one started. It is the least we can do to thank our troops who sacrifice so much for our freedom.

Jennie G