Ideas for PTOs To Support Troops and Veterans

Thoughtful ways to show troops that your school cares.

by Rose Hamilton


Many community members have asked how to send candy and care packages to U.S. troops overseas during the holiday season (including Halloween!).

One suggestion is to head to the Department of Defense website and start with its list of organizations that have been approved by such groups as the Better Business Bureau. Several of these organizations’ efforts are well-suited for community service projects involving kids, with options for sending care packages full of treats, letters, and basic supplies.

Holiday shop all done? Thank your volunteers so they’ll be ready to help next year

Here are a few examples:

Operation Gratitude: This organization has a special effort devoted to Halloween candy shipments and provides useful information, like how to package candy (separate chocolate from non-chocolate goodies) and ideas for other items to include, like notes to soldiers. There’s a helpful Halloween section that includes tips on how to write a letter to a soldier. This group maintains a list of troop volunteers overseas who distribute care packages to fellow soldiers. You can search the site to look for troops who may be deployed from your school’s area to give it a local connection and request a package to be sent to those soldiers.

The Hugs Project: This group is currently focused on the National Guard and Marines in Afghanistan. You can send items for care packages using its list of most requested items like canned food (tuna), nuts, socks, and small sewing kits.

Project Thank You: Based in California, this organization has several locations where groups can pick up a shipping box, called a Hero Box and fill it with items using the suggestions listed on the site. (Some of the most popular items are jerky, gum, note pads, and floss.) Groups return a filled box to the Project Thank You location where it is picked up and shipped overseas.

Operation Homefront: This organization offers various programs to support military families and children with holiday meals and toy drive programs.

Soldiers' Angels: This Texas-based organization runs a Treats for Troops program that sends care packages to deployed troops in several countries.

Here are some additional resources for celebrating soldiers and veterans:

Halloween Treats for Troops Flyer

Community Service: A Week Spent Honoring Veterans

Veterans Day Tip: Make It Personal

Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.

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