More than 150,000 U.S. troops have left their families behind to serve their country. Check out our military charity guide to find out how your messages and donations help service members in Iraq and their families back home.
Help Kaylee Radzyminksi show 'em you care-- send CDs and DVDs to troops serving overseas. For more information, visit tunes4thetroops.org.
Troops in the field use silly string to help locate explosive devices. Send donations to: Marcelle Shriver/St. Luke Church/55 N. Warwick Rd./Stratford, NJ. 08084
Here's a great way to remind the troops that they're appreciated: Through Eagles on the Home Front, send the troops a care package loaded with essential goodies.What to send: Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, etc.), used CDs and DVDs, books, snacks (no perishable or liquid items), board games, letters and phone cards. Where to send it: Northeast High School / 3701 Trenton Road / Clarksville, TN 37040 / 931-648-5640
You can send your personal message of support to troops via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. It may appear in print in "Stars and Stripes"-- a newspaper distributed to the troops overseas.
The Fisher House organization provides inexpensive lodging at 23 military and Veterans Administration medical centers for families of injured service members. For more information visit fisherhouse.org.
You can make a difference at home by volunteering your time and compassion with a Veterans Administration hospital. It's a great way to say "thank you" for their service. For more information visit the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
One detail that many troops often overlook is what to do with their pets while they're away. This is where you come in. You can take their pets into your home through an organization called the MilitaryPetsFoster project. Military personnel are matched with caring foster homes that'll look after their pets until their safe return. (Sorry, you can't keep them.) Get all the details here.
Teen Shauna Fleming started a campaign to collect a million thank-you letters to send to forces around the globe. She and a team of volunteers collect and sort thank-you letters and even CDs and DVDs to send to the troops. To learn how you can be a part of a million thanks, go to the Web site.
Support the troops' humanitarian efforts with Operation Crayon. AdoptaPlatoon and Army soldiers serving in Bosnia founded the project in 1999. Military units adopt needy schools or orphanages in places such as Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait and Kosovo and provide them with much needed supplies. You can help by sending some of these winter clothing, toothpaste, toothbrushes and school supplies. For more information visit the Web site.
Help those serving overseas phone their loved ones back home by donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers, an organization that gives troops prepaid calling cards. You can donate cash or old cell phones and/or phone batteries that are then recycled and sold for money to buy the calling cards. For details on how to help troops stay connected, check out Cell Phones for Soldiers or Operation Uplink.
Donors buy gift certificates that can be redeemed by troops' families at various stores. Donate at commissaries.com.
Operation Hero Miles accepts frequent-flier-mile donations on major airlines to help cover travel expenses of service members on leave. The program, which was recently appropriated $55 million by Congress, helps keep families together through discounted travel. For more information see the Web site.