(BPT) - Supporting the troops is an important thing to do - but sometimes it's hard to figure out how to give your support.
Here are five easy ways to thank those people who keep us safe every single day - even if you don't personally know someone serving. And it's the perfect time of year to do it. With the holidays coming up, many of these service men and women are away from family.
Send a thank-you gift
Give a personal thank you directly to the men and women serving the country. Some retailers are making it easy to support the troops this holiday season. For instance, national retailer Things Remembered is helping people - even those on a budget - send unique, personalized gifts to deployed service members.
Through Nov. 20, Things Remembered shoppers purchasing gifts for deployed military personnel received 25 percent off and free shipping on any personalized gift sent to an APO/FPO address. With more than 600 stores nationally, Things Remembered is helping any American personally thank those protecting our nation in time for the holidays.
Even shoppers who don't personally know any deployed servicemen or women can show their support. All Things Remembered stores will be featuring local deployed military members who would love to receive gifts from their hometown neighbors.
Volunteer your time
Troops serving overseas do not have the luxury of spending the holidays with their loved ones, but there are also former service members stateside who should be recognized.
Show your appreciation for those who have helped protect our country by volunteering at your local VA hospital or nursing home this season, even if only for a few hours.
You are sure to meet some fascinating men and women, and you'll bring holiday cheer to those who may not have many visitors.
It may not seem like it would directly impact men and women overseas, but giving blood through an organization like the American Red Cross can actually help troops hundreds and thousands of miles away.
Military units may depend on rush shipments of blood during times of need, and maintaining an ample supply of all blood types is important. You may even host a blood drive at your workplace or community center, encouraging others to give the gift of life this holiday season.
To find a blood drive or donation location near you, visit www.redcrossblood.org.
Support troops' families
When troops are deployed, they leave their strongest supporters behind. Particularly during the holidays, it is important to remember the families of active duty service members in our communities.
Whether it's a parent, spouse or child of a deployed troop, someone in your area will likely be without a loved one this season. There are countless ways to show your support of those behind our military, whether it's a plate of holiday cookies, community event or simply a handwritten card.
During this difficult time, it truly is the thought that counts, and your efforts will be appreciated more than you know. Find a local family to support through an organization like Military OneSource.
Encouraging others to remember our deployed troops is one of the most wide-reaching ways to support the active military during the holidays.
By reminding neighbors that our men and women overseas may need a boost of holiday cheer, you could touch hundreds of service members' lives this season. Talk to people, post on Facebook, send out Tweets or include a reminder in your holiday cards.
Every person you impact also becomes an advocate, which can quickly multiply into hundreds of acts of support. Be proud to support our service men and women this year and encourage others to do the same.
Although the holidays can be a difficult time for deployed service members and their families, there are countless ways you can show your gratitude and appreciation this season. Whether it's a personalized gift, visit to a veteran, blood donation or support for their families, you can give back to those who give so much to our country.