• Gifts of Time. I've been called the "Coupon Queen" many times, but why not make a coupon booklet as a gift? Include coupons for free baby-sitting, a meal, a favorite batch of cookies, a coffee date, running errands--the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

  • Group Gifts. Groups of friends (such as a Sunday school class or work group) could join together and buy a long-distance phone card, a gift certificate for a favorite restaurant, or movie passes for a fun night out.

  • Saving Private Ryan

    It can mean a lot to the family at home to know that others are keeping in touch with the military member. Here are some practical ways to reach out:

    • Prayer. There's an old saying "There are no atheists in foxholes." No matter what the military member's religious affiliation is, the overwhelming majority of people won't turn down prayer. Let them know you're praying for them regularly.

    • Prayer/Letter Chains. If you want to take the above tip a step further, organize a group of friends to pray each week. Have the weekly prayer partner write a note to the military member to let him/her know they're praying. But be sure it's all right with the service person before you organize this chain.

    • Letters. Your family can adopt a single service member. Send photos of your family, drawings from your kids, and letters of appreciation for the service they are rendering our nation.

    • Gifts. Check with the military member and see what restrictions there are on small gifts. One suggestion is a book called Taking the High Ground--Military Moments With God by Col. Jeff O'Leary (Cook, 2001). This book is bringing comfort and wisdom to thousands of veterans, military members, and their families. It gently gives them hope and points them onward and upward.


    Angels With Skin On

    It's one thing to give a family an open-ended statement: "If there's anything we can do to help, please let us know." Chances are they will never call for your help. Here are some ways to be proactive in your offer for help:

    • Refusals Permitted. While you offer help, be sensitive to the fact that they may refuse it. Don't take it personally; just make another offer to help at a later time.

    • Be Specific. Instead of a blanket proposal for help, offer a tangible form of assistance, such as "May my son and I come and mow your lawn on Friday or Saturday?" Or, "I'd like to bring you a meal one day next week. What day would be good for you to take a break from cooking?"

    • Group Projects. If your group wants to help, have specific projects in mind. For example, a youth group could clear away all the leaves in the yard. Remember, always have adult supervision and be responsible for those in your group. These projects can be a tremendous blessing to the families involved.



    Excerpted from: Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America's Military Families by Ellie Kay. Copyright (c) 2002, Ellie Kay ISBN 076422789. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


    Clixk here to read an interview with Ellie Kay.