Putting others’ needs before yours during the holidays can feel like the biggest gift of all. Here’s how military spouses Taylor Hupe, Katie Iden, and Sharon Sherlock give back to their community and beyond at the year’s end.
Hupe’s family participates in Adopt-A-Family and Angel Tree. They also support their local animal shelter. Adopt-A-Family, organized by The Salvation Army, benefits low-income families in the local community. You can sign up to sponsor a family via The Salvation Army’s website. “You’re given a list of the family members (i.e. mom, dad, son, daughter), a list of their clothing/shoe sizes, and what the kids like to play with,” explained Hupe. “Parents request things like pots and pans, household items usually.”
Hupe said giving back with Angel Tree, which is also affiliated with The Salvation Army, is even easier than adopting a family because it focuses on one person rather than a group. You can walk into a place like Walmart, for example, pick an angel off the tree, read the description of whom to buy for, get a gift fitting the description, then bring it back to the donation box. “It’s a quick, easy way for someone to give back,” she said. “You don’t even have to wrap it—you just drop it in the box.”
For animal lovers, taking care of your local rescue facility is a great way to help out around the holidays. “You can check with your local animal shelter for any raffle baskets they may have for sale as 100% of proceeds usually go to the animal rescue,” Hupe said.
Iden, a milspouse and active duty Air Force officer, gives back in multiple ways as well. She, too, participates in Angel Tree, as well as Compassion International. Compassion International is a Christian-based child sponsorship and humanitarian aid organization in which people can sponsor children globally who live in poverty. This program is run year-round, but it also features a special Christmas edition.
“You can do a specific Christmas gift and write a nice Christmas letter to them,” Iden said. Over the years, Iden has supported children in Honduras, East Indonesia, Ecuador and Kenya. She’s even received thank you letters from these children. “It makes you feel happy and it’s important for me to remember what Christmas is about and not just what I am going to get for it,” she emphasized.
Iden has two family members (young boys) with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and each year around Christmas she and her family contribute money to the boys’ needs. “That’s our family thing—we donate to them to help with medical supplies and other things they need,” she explained. “One year, it went toward a special van with a wheelchair lift system.”
But the selflessness doesn’t stop there for Iden. “At Thanksgiving, we host airmen that can’t go home for the holiday with a Thanksgiving meal,” she said.
Sherlock, who is also both a milspouse and an active duty Air Force officer, donates clothing for those of all ages, winter gear, toiletries, child-size KF94 masks and cleaning supplies to the local orphanages near Osan Air Base in South Korea annually. “I provide these items and show these orphans love because they are the definition of innocence,” Sherlock said. “They deserve love, affection, attention and their basic needs met. I keep my focus on sharing the love, especially with those who have no one else.”
Sherlock made a strong point about giving back—it comes in many forms, both material (goods/services) and non-material (prayers/kindness/gratitude). “Giving doesn’t have to cost a cent,” Sherlock said. “Consider exploring what your special gifts are to enrich your corner of the world.”
Taking Food to First Responders
Some other ways to give back this holiday season include taking meals to those who work on the holidays such as first responders and medical staff, making beanies and socks for your local hospital’s Labor and Delivery unit, donating money or toys to a children’s hospital or sending care packages to our soldiers deployed overseas.
Let these milspouses inspire the desire to put others first this season. Generosity goes a long way.