Tuesday: Take Time to Say Thank You

6 Nov

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
Sun Tzu
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Today, I am grateful for my freedom, my life, my family and friends. We often have the opportunity to thank our family and friends for their love and support, but how often do we thank those who ensure our freedom? There are so many men and women defending our country, far from home, far from their loved ones, who won’t be home for the holidays. What can just one person do? Well, they can share this with all their friends, then hundreds, perhaps thousands can participate. When I saw this post on my Facebook page, I decided that I should share this info with as many people as I could. Spread the word…let’s be heard!
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From my friend Chaplain Jim:

Family Matters- Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is just around the corner! Well, maybe not…UNLESS you are trying to put together Christmas Stockings for thousands of Soldiers-THEN it starts sneaking up real quick! This will be my third deployment over the Christmas season (I made it back JUST in time to have Christmas itself on American soil the first time around), my third time being involved with some version of an Operation Christmas Spirit. I’d like to invite you and your church to be a part of supporting Soldiers who won’t be coming home for Christmas this year, from Ohio and across the country, through a simple project of sending Christmas stockings and stuffers for our troops.

Christmas CAN be a challenging time in the Christian family, when all the culture around us and our kids is in countless ways, telling our kids that Christmas is about THEM, and that their worth and their families’ love is measured in how much stuff the kids get. But I thought it was JESUS’ birthday, right? So whatever we can do to get kids out of themselves, and thinking of the Jesus heart of Christmas–and this Christmas Stocking project for Soldiers that can’t make it home for Christmas is a good example– will be a great way to help our kids see and LIVE the CHRIST of CHRIST-mas.

The numbers should be a bit easier this time around– we’re looking at needing only about 1,500 stockings to care for our troops this year. While that may sound like a lot, our people have a lot of groups and churches eager to help, so it should be an exciting, yet easily manageable project. In order to keep it manageable, PLEASE restrict your Christmas Cheer to just what is on the list so that Santa’s Elves in uniform can have a manageable job of sorting things and stuffing the stockings!

Christmas away from home can be hard, and I’m hoping that this project can help bring a little of the comfort of the Christmas Spirit to our Soldiers whom I doubt will get a “White Christmas” (that song was also a Solders’ Christmas project)! With your help, we can make it happen, and make it memorable. Thank you for all you do!

Keep being a blessing-
CH Lewis

Operation Christmas Spirit Stocking Stuffer Ideas:

(Please remember in ALL your items that this is a CHAPLAIN sponsored RELIGIOUS SUPPORT program. I don’t mean that we can’t have any fun with it, but be mindful of what kind of fun would be appropriate for this kind of program. Also, as these Stockings will be given to ALL Soldiers under our the care of the 371st, we need to be respectful of the “religious pluralism” that is essential to maintain in order to ensure continued Chaplain ministry. I will be putting together a carefully worded CHRISTMAS (not “holiday”) card to go with each to point to the Star of Christmas, and the real meaning of Christmas, but this must be carefully worded, so let me take care of that end.)

* DVDs/BLU Ray-preferably Christmas themed movies, cartoons
* CDs-preferably Christmas themed; the Christmas comedy types will be great, but be careful with them, as some can be inappropriate for a CHAPLAIN sponsored project
* small nativity scene/projects, whether complete or pocket crafts they can put together
* a small and memorable, UNBREAKABLE Christmas tree ornament
* SMALL travel/office/desk games, brain-bender puzzles
* Gift cards for books, movies, music download, etc. for internet use (unfortunately none of the eating establishments here accept gift cards)
* SMALL bottles of flavored syrups for coffee
* Pocket packs of tissue
* Gum (a GREAT winner that we never get enough of!)
* Christmas soaps
* Slim Jim, beef jerkey
* INDIVIDUAL Tooth brushes and holders
* Hard candy
* small bags of nuts
* Baggage name tags
* Puzzle books- Suduku, word games
* White CREW length socks, no logos
* mini-lego gift sets
* a small toy like a koosh ball, key ring, D ring, etc

PLEASE keep your gifts within these categories to simplify our process. For security purposes, send UNSTUFFED stockings, and the stuffing items in BULK, preferably in commercial packaging (but toothbrushes should be individually packaged!). Packages take about a week to get here, but don’t wait too long so we’ll have time to sort and stuff! Send us an email address of your church or group that you would like us to send pictures and our thanks to.

Our address here is:

CH (MAJ) James Lewis
Operation Christmas Spirit
371st SUS BDE
APO AE 09366

Thank you SO much, and Keep being a blessing!
CH Lewis, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Chaplain (Major) James R. Lewis
371st Sustainment Brigade
Brigade Chaplain
DSN: (318) 430-4106
NIPR: james.r.lewis1.mil@mail.mil
SIPR: james.r.lewis1@swa.army.smil.mil

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