Since 2007 I have coordinated an effort to provide Christmas gifts to the children of military families going through difficult times. Many of these children had a parent deployed over the holidays. But it wasn't just about collecting Christmas gifts. It was about giving grateful Americans a way to show appreciation to a military family in a personal way.
Since then we have connected over 1,000 military families and generous sponsors. Considering it has just been me and a little help from a few family volunteers, that's a meaningful number to us. We have received letter after letter saying what this program has meant to people. Not just to the families moved by the help they received, but also from sponsors who say their own lives were changed for the better by getting involved.
Many of you know I started this program when my oldest nephew was first deployed to Iraq, and that I facilitated most of it from bed rest due to debilitating chronic illness. While I still deal with chronic illness on a daily basis, I have improved a lot and have less limitations now. For many years this program saved my sanity. It gave me a worthy cause to focus on instead of the pain I was experiencing in my own life.
This year my husband and I have been experiencing a lot of major changes in our lives, including the fact that we are expecting our first child, due next spring. After 8 years of pouring our hearts and souls into this program, and with much thought and prayer, we have made the decision to focus on our family for the time being. While we will no longer be coordinating our Adopt a Family Christmas program, we will not be closing our organization. We will maintain our website and Facebook page in an effort to find and help spread the word about other groups with similar programs for military families.
How Can You Help?
1) If you know of or come across an organization doing anything like what we do for the holiday season, please send us the information!
•If it provides help to military families, we want to hear about it.
•If it gives people a way to help those families on a personal level, we especially want to hear about it!
2) We are putting together a video tribute to honor the amazing military families and selfless sponsors we have been privileged to work with over the past 8 years. If you have been involved in our program it would mean the world to us to be able to honor you. There are two ways to participate. 1) Take a brief video (phone camera, digital camera, whatever you have) explaining your involvement in the Christmas program and what it meant to you, and upload it to sendvid.com or YouTube and e-mail the link to firstname.lastname@example.org. 2) Email us a photo and a message of the same.
Our hope is that others will see this video and be inspired to help military families. Your participation could help more of our troops and their families receive support and encouragement when they need it most.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. We will not be able to respond to requests for help or requests to adopt a family. But we will do our best to answer questions as well as research any program you tell us about and post it on our sites if it is a good fit.
"Thank you" is the understatement of the century when communicating how much all of you have come to mean to me. My life has been forever changed by these unbelievably brave, dedicated families who give all they have to serve our nation.. And by the remarkably generous, thoughtful Americans who stepped up year after year and made sacrifices of their own so they could show these families they have not been forgotten. I have no intention of leaving this worthy cause behind. I will simply be working at it from a different angle for now.
Thank you all for changing my life by being such honorable human beings. I am better for having had a small part in your lives. I hope you will consider adding a small piece of your story to our tribute video and continuing this journey with me to help spread the word about connecting with and supporting our nation's bravest families.
Amanda Drake Cromley
“My husband is on his second Iraq tour and we couldn’t be more honored. Still, money is very tight and it is a tough burden to have to tell your loved one, who is fighting a war, that he can either call home every other day or pay for Christmas gifts for our kids. But Thank Military Families provided gifts and stockings for each of our kids as well as many other military families in need.”
-Brandee, Army Wife & Mom