Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.
If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!
Guest post from Katie
During the holiday season, we are all pulled in so many directions — whether with church, school, or community service groups, sometimes it is hard to determine how to invest our extra time and resources.
There is one group of people that none of us should neglect — especially during the holiday season — our military. Being away from the comforts and joys of home can be difficult for a deployed member of our military especially during the holidays.
As a wife to an active duty Marine who is currently serving in the Middle East, I can personally say how humbling it is to have people all across the United States praying for, and supporting, my husband and those like him deployed all over the world.
There is so much that those of us here at home can do to support the thousands of men and women who sacrifice so much day in, and day out, to protect the freedoms (including the freedom to celebrate our holidays!) we enjoy every moment here in the United States.
Here are three practical (and budget-friendly) ways you and your family can show gratitude to the men and women serving our country:
1. Write letters.
This is the most inexpensive, yet one of the most appreciated and heartfelt, gifts our servicemen and women overseas can receive. Organizations like Operation Gratitude  accept letters that they include in their care packages. If you know a family in your community with a son or daughter in the military, be sure to ask for their address. By the way, letters to our military only take one stamp to mail overseas.
Small children who do not know how to write yet can draw pictures. Often, whoever receives the letter or picture will write back to you. This is a great way to start a penpal relationship!
2. Put together care packages.
If you are a savvy couponer, donating items like magazines, food, and toiletries won’t busts your budget, but will be very much appreciated. You can donate these items to organizations like Operation Gratitude  or AnySoldier.com . Or, you can pick up a flat rate box from your local post office and pack it full of special treats and letters and send it to a soldier you know or someone listed on the AnySolder website . These boxes cost from $10-16 to ship.
3. Encourage the spouses and families left at home.
Write a note or email, or drop off a small gift to brighten a military spouse’s day while their loved one is deployed. Separation is hard during deployment and a little bit of encouragement goes a long way!
We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free. That freedom has come at a very high cost and the least we can do is show our men and women in uniform that we care and support them, even from thousands of miles away.
Katie is a teacher, and Marine wife living in Southern California. She is passionate about working with kids and loves encouraging young women and other military wives.
photo credit