The Spirit of Giving—All Year Round

By Meredith Wilmes, for USBA

During the holidays, our minds tend to be more focused on giving. And we’re not just talking about buying presents for loved ones, but also giving to those in need. With bells jingling near storefronts and cheer in the air, it’s easy to find ways to give back this time of year. But here are some tips for keeping that spirit of giving alive all year round.

Start creating your plan for giving by exploring local causes in your community. Those can make the biggest direct impact.  Make a list and then circle the ones that you and your family connect with most. Because the holidays provide ample opportunities to give back, now is a great time to begin.

One such cause that’s especially relevant to the military community this time of year is Wreaths Across America. Their mission is to remember and honor those who served by covering the grave sites of those laid to rest at cemeteries.

Photo courtesy of Wreaths Across America

Our partners at USBA (a nonprofit life insurance association for military families), proudly support that mission this year by donating 500 wreaths to help cover gravesites at Ft. Leavenworth National Cemetery, a short drive from their corporate headquarters in Overland Park, KS. Their staff will join together at the National Wreath laying ceremony on December 16 in honor of the fallen, and USBA members across the country can even donate a wreath in someone’s name.

“Our staff has always had a close and caring relationship with our active duty and veteran membership,” comments USBA’s President/CEO Col Robin A. Snyder, USAF (Ret.). “We are looking forward to participating in the National Wreath Laying ceremony by joining others on that day to lay wreaths on gravesites at Ft. Leavenworth.”

Visit to see how you can donate to a cemetery close to your home base. The deadline to donate wreaths for 2017 has already passed, but you can get a jump start on next year or participate in one of their other remembrance opportunities year round.

After you’ve done some research about ways to give back on your own this season, check with the military organizations you’re a part of or do business with to see which causes they support year round. It may sound silly, but often times they’ve laid the groundwork for members or customers to get involved, and you can be sure the charities are reputable. Plus, doesn’t it feel good to know a company you do business with has a heart for your community as well?

For example, another standout program emerging in the Kansas City area is Veterans Community Project (VCP), a local nonprofit founded by veterans, are tackling veteran homelessness in a unique way. VCP is building the first ever “Veterans Village” that will provide vets an opportunity to reside in a safe place.

Their mission is to build 50 tiny homes in the greater Kansas City area to give homeless veterans transitional housing that provides personal privacy, a sense of security, and the opportunity to reintegrate into the urban community. They also hope it will become a blueprint for other cities to address their own population of homeless veterans.

Photos courtesy of


Photos courtesy of

USBA, along with their underwriters, New York Life Insurance Company, have joined forces to sponsor the build of one of those tiny homes in the new Veterans Village. The first 10 houses are expected to go up around Thanksgiving, with the USBA/New York Life sponsored home scheduled for early Spring 2018.  You can follow them on Twitter @USBA_Insurance and on Facebook to watch the house go up next year. Learn more about VCP at

Have you already been giving back to amazing programs like these in your local community? Share with us in the comments!  It may inspire others to do the same.

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