5 Ways to Make a Difference on Veterans Day

On November 11, we honor our nation’s veterans and military personnel for Veteran’s Day.

There are many ways to mark the holiday, but here are five ways you can make a difference in the lives of local vets and soldiers this Veteran’s Day.

Visit the National Veteran’s Art Museum
1801 S. Indiana Ave., Chicago
Admission: $10, $7 for students/seniors

Over 2,000 works of art created by veterans are on display at the National Veteran’s Art Museum (NVAM).  From paintings to photography to music, the artwork depicts all aspects of war. Much of the art focuses on Vietnam, since the museum was initially opened to showcase art by Vietnam vets.

The art is uncensored, so the museum is probably not for families with young children. While you’re at NVAM, you can also make a donation to the museum.

Clean Out Your Closet for the Troops

Downers Grove, Ill.

Get rid of your old clothes by donating them to Helping Our Heroes. One of the many things this locally based organization does is resell donated clothes to raise funds for their organization, which provides financial aid to active military members and veterans, as well as police officers and firefighters.

Drop off locations are in Park Ridge, Libertyville and other suburbs. For a complete list of drop-off sites, check out helpingourheroes.org/clothingboxlocations.html

Buy a Bracelet to Help Wounded Vets

Something as simple as buying a bracelet can send significant funds to Homes For the Troops  (homesforourtroops.org) and other organizations that help wounded veterans. From Soldier to Soldier has created a bracelet that honors our veterans – it’s a designer version of the survival bracelets worn by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You can buy these bracelets online, and locally, the boutique Splurge (link: http://splurge.co/announcements/files/c2e673f433930d904b1950ec92c1a409-0.html) in Northbrook started selling the bracelets in August.

Send a Care Package to a Soldier
Palatine, Ill.

Yellow Ribbon Support Group is a local non-profit that has sent thousands of care packages to our men and women serving in the Armed Forces.

There are plenty of ways to help with the care packages, such as donating items on the group’s “Wish List,” assembling packages or suggesting the name of someone you know who is serving in the military – they can receive a package, too. For a full list of opportunities, visit yellowribbonsg.org/help_to_help.html

Volunteer with Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans
Wheaton, Ill.

Transitioning back to civilian life after serving in the military can be a difficult process, and organizations like Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans help vets with that transition.

The shelter is looking for volunteers to help out in a variety of different ways. Volunteers are needed to drive shelter residents to appointments and to decorate the shelter during the holidays. For a full list of opportunities, visit helpaveteran.org/volunteer.htm.

For more volunteer ideas, check with your local USO.