I love this time of year. It’s pretty to drive down night streets and see lights and colors aglow. There’s the smell of cinnamon, spice, evergreen and woodsmoke in the air.

Visions of fires in the fire place and chestnuts roasting take me back to my childhood.

People are a little bit nicer as you smile and chat with strangers in stores. More bells appear to mark your entrance into shops and homes. Winter scenes blur around the edges and have a greeting card quality to them.

December conjures up thoughts of friends and family, charity and giving. Peace on earth and happiness. What about the unknown soldiers that have fought for our freedom?

With over 307 million people in the United States and nearly 2 million in the Military, statistically so few people are directly effected by having a loved one fighting in the wars.

If you don’t have a family member, friend, or loved one on active duty, or even if you do, this video is a great reminder of those we should have gratitude for as we partake in our holidays. And the following organizations are great ways to get involved and give back.

There are some great programs that you can participate in to let the soldiers know you care. Check these out:

  • Trees for Troops Help get Christmas trees to active duty service members and their families
  • Holiday Mail for Heroes Through the Red Cross. Quick you have to get your cards in by December 1oth
  • Soldier’s Angels Provides aid to men and woman in the military and their families check out their holiday initiatives
  • Operation Gratitude sends care packages to the troops
  • Operation Military Pride has an adopt a soldier program, find out his or her wish list and send a gift
  • Quilts of Valor Foundation create quilts for all military members and veterans touched by war with Wartime Quilts
  • Baking Gals a group of volunteers baking and sending cookies overseas to soldiers.

These are just some of the great ways to get involved and give back to the soldiers for the holidays. But check them out quick, many of them have deadlines in order to get everything in the mail by Christmas.

Make sure you check out the validity of any organization you wish to donate to sadly there are some that are hoaxes like sending mail to Walter Reed, and there are some that do not get where you think they should go. Please check into any program you come across that proclaims itself as being a charity or organization for helping anyone.

A little note on the video and song “A Soldier’s Silent Night”
The poem was originally titled “Merry Christmas, My Friend” and written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1987. The audio recording was done by Father Ted Berndt and his daughter Ellen Stout in one take. Father Berndt has since passed away in 2004, but his life’s mission lives on – “to touch lives and make a difference.”