As often happens a chance encounter and an act of kindness resulted in something bigger. In 2009, Ken Ruff found himself behind a soldier and his family at a grocery store when he noticed they didn’t have enough money to pay for their groceries which included an austere number of items to make a Thanksgiving dinner. He stepped up to pay the difference despite the protest. The encounter made Ruff realize there was a need to help military families during the holidays.
Ruff went back to his company Beam Global and canceled the holiday gifts usually given to clients and got the seed money to launch a pilot program to distribute more than 500 holiday meals kits to service members and their families. They paired with Operation Homefront a nonprofit Ruff had worked with before and trusted. The program has continued to expand over the years and now has 20 core sponsors that provide generous support which includes volunteer hours, funding, food items, venues, storage, and shipping.
Each holiday meal kit contains a turkey, gravy cranberry sauce, stuffing and vegetables. In 2018, almost 10,000 families were gifted a holiday meal due to generous donors. Since that first year, the Holiday Meals for Military program has served over 90,000 military families including 420,000 family members.
The 2019 Holiday Meals for Military Events are now open for registration. All ranks of Active Duty are eligible as well as National Guard or Reserve on Title 10 status, Post 9/11 wounded, ill, or injured service member of any rank. Visit Operation Homefront – Holiday Meals Registration to register for a meal. The group operates on many installations around the country.
In addition to the Holiday Meals, Operation Homefront provides a variety of services to military families in need. One of the ways you can help is to make a monetary donation to their current needs. There are many families suffering a one time crisis that can be helped with a donation to stop a downward financial spiral due to unexpected expenses. For example, one family just needs $78 for groceries. Others need emergency assistance to pay rent or utilities.
Another need is volunteers. As a nonprofit, Operation Homefront is dependent on their volunteers who help make their valued programs and services for military families happen. Programs include: critical financial assistance, rent-free transitional housing, caregiver support programs, family support with holiday meals, school supplies, baby bundles, toys, and resources for military spouses and children. Visit the website to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
They also have a monthly giving program called “Homefront Hero”. A donation of $10 a month will help provide groceries for a month for a military family. A $25 monthly donation helps pay utility bills for a military family. You can help cover car repairs for a military family with a $50 a month donation. It is simple to set up and makes a huge impact for our military families.
Whether you need their services or would like to give back, check out Operation Homefront. What ways do you give back to our military communities?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com