2016-2017 National Youth Activities Ambassador
Thanksgiving is days away and I have so much to be thankful for. I live in the greatest country in the world that our veterans have defended to keep free. I have a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren who are so very special to me. I have a warm and safe home, food to eat and clothes to wear. I could go on with my blessings, but how about those veterans and others in our communities who may not be able to say this? This time of year can be especially hard on those who are not as fortunate.
As Christmas nears, it’s important to keep youth involved in serving veterans and others in your communities that may be alone, homeless or otherwise in need.
- Invite an older youth group to help with outdoor holiday lights and decorations at the homes of veterans or seniors.
- Ask a youth group to assist in preparing Christmas cards for those in the VA Nursing Homes or Hospitals in your area. If you do not have these nearby, you can still do the cards and package them in a box and mail to the activity director for distribution to the residents/patients.
- Plan a visit with a youth group(s) to a nursing home (VA or community), hospital or senior assisted living center to sing Christmas carols. Purchase some Santa hats from a discount store for all to wear. These can also be worn at other events during the holiday season.
- If your Post/Auxiliary has a Christmas/holiday dinner for those in need, invite youth groups to attend and help with the festivities. Your Auxiliary could also invite youth to assemble food baskets and help distribute them in the community.
- If you are hosting a youth Christmas party, ask older youth to help with gift/goodies distribution. Have the youth group come early and help wrap the Christmas gifts for this event. Maybe you have a budding photographer in the group that can take pictures with Santa.
- Host a Christmas cookie decorating or ornament crafting day for youth groups. Provide plain sugar cookies, icing, sprinkles, etc. Don’t forget boxes or containers to take home. For a tree ornament, check out Pinterest or other websites for simple and inexpensive ideas. The ornaments can be taken home, placed on the Post tree, given to hospitalized veterans or as gifts to their family members.
- At your youth group meeting in December, consider discussing other holidays and traditions that occur at this time of year, for example: Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. This is especially welcome for those who may not celebrate the Christmas holiday.
- Show your patriotism during the holidays. Have youth help decorate a tree in red, white and blue. Use white (red or blue on a white tree) lights and garland and ornaments in red white and blue. Include small flags as well. Be creative! Maybe you have a tree in front of your Post that you could decorate this way.
- If your community has a “Parade of Lights,” consider having a float that includes youth. Be sure to have those R.A.P. cards and coins available! Speaking of R.A.P. cards, a shout out to Patty, Youth Activities Chairman from Maryland for this creative idea. Print the R.A.P. cards on label paper from the office supply store. This way you can peel off a sticker to give to a young person. I know young people love stickers (at least my grandson does)!
- Host a “Candy Cane Hunt” for youth at your Post Home or a local park. Invite Santa to come, too! After the hunt, invite the children and families to share hot chocolate and goodies wth Post and Auxiliary members. Be sure and check with your local parks and recreation department or city before hosting it at a city-owned space.
Check out the National Organization’s Pinterest page for LOTS of creative ideas for Christmas/holiday food, crafts, games and décor for all ages! https://www.pinterest.com/vfwauxiliary/all-about-christmaswinter/.
One more thing I am thankful for: all of our organization’s comrades, brothers and sisters, who work so hard and passionately to serve our veterans and their families. You make me proud and I am honored to serve with you. I would like to wish all of you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving!
“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Football halftimes last 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” – Erma Bombeck