People all long for that feeling of “home,” especially during the holidays. For many military members, this is especially crucial. Although people in service have Christmas Day off from training, they often have to remain on base camps away from their families.
Convoy of Hope teamed up with The Warrior’s Journey, a nonprofit that helps military personnel feel at home during Christmas. They have become known on a global scale for responding within 24 hours and for providing community support, resources, and referrals to some of the unspoken battles soldiers face.
This year brought a unique way to help. Over the past few months, dozens of volunteer groups — facilitated by Convoy’s Volunteer Engagement Team — packed more than 900 gift bags to send to soldiers who can’t be home for the holidays.
Serving on the Ground
Convoy of Hope acted as “the muscle” behind delivering gift bags to military bases, shipping them to partners who distributed on the ground, while The Warrior’s Journey met and connected with warriors. The war zones they’re training are rarely the toughest challenges they face — their personal lives are harder.
The kits create a tangible way to help, while The Warrior’s Journey provides long-term resources.
“It allows us to bring something to them and say, ‘Hey, we’re thankful for your service. With our partnership with Convoy, we have something to make your Christmas Day better,’” said Ernie Bywater, Project Manager at The Warrior’s Journey and a U.S. Air Force veteran.
As drill sergeants line up military members on Christmas Eve (and at a few bases on Christmas Day), Ernie says he sees “a sense of relief” wash over their faces when they realize this isn’t part of a drill, but something they get to enjoy.
“It’s definitely a good surprise when they see we’re providing something outside of the norm,” Ernie added.
The Warrior’s Journey distributes gift bags in four states, and partners with 32 organizations — but they’re working on expanding.
Convoy’s Community Events project manager Dianna Mulheron said this partnership has been meaningful to her and to the volunteers, as she has multiple veterans in her family.
“Military life can be difficult at times. I’m thankful we can help to bring some joy to those who sacrifice so much,” Dianna said.
If you or a loved one needs resources to face difficult challenges, visit thewarriorsjourney.org to connect with a fellow warrior. The Warrior’s Journey has already facilitated 16,860 warrior-to-warrior conversations and can get you connected today.