Hospitalized Vets Need Holiday Cheer

~ By Freddy Groves ~

If your veterans service group is planning to make a “Santa” visit to the ward of a local veterans hospital, here is your to-do list to make the process go smoothly.

  • Corral your crew and get commitments for time and specific tasks.
  • Contact Volunteer Services at the medical center and ask if they’d like you to be responsible for a holiday party for a whole ward, or for a list of veterans who have no local family. Set a time and date. Noon-ish for a pizza party is ideal.
  • Locate a real Santa costume and decide who’s going to wear it.
  • Your shopping list: service baseball caps (approach recruiters to get those), small boxes of candy (ask nursing staff if it has to be sugar-free for some), playing cards, water bottles, mechanical pencils and puzzle books, small desk calendars and anything else you can think of. Don’t forget the women veterans, who might like a comb and brush set or bright slipper socks.
  • Boxes and tissue paper for the above, as well as wrapping paper and bows. Have a holiday card for each veteran.
  • Set a date for your wrapping party. Have everyone on your crew bring several rolls of gift wrap, tape and scissors. Be sure everyone signs every holiday card.
  • If your budget allows, consider giving each veteran a small ($5-$10) gift coupon to the canteen.
  • Ask store managers for donations of items for your gift boxes.
  • Arrange for the pizzas (and sodas, if allowed) to be delivered at the time of your party. Be sure who is providing plates, cups and napkins, and paying for the pizza delivery.

If gifts aren’t possible, remember that what the veterans want most is your presence and your time.

Freddy Groves regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to
© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.

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