HELPING THE TROOPS: Reader Ron Ford sends this very comprehensive list of support-the-troops websites -- click "read more" for the full list.
AAFES Gift Certificates http://www.aafes.com/docs/homefront.htm
The Army and Air Force Exchange Services is where most servicemen and women do their shopping. You can purchase gift certificates for those in Iraq and those hospitalized.
Adopt a Platoon http://www.adoptaplatoon.org/
Adopt a Platoon has several ongoing projects to ensure that every soldier overseas does not walk away from mail call empty-handed.
Fisher House http://www.fisherhouse.org/
The Fisher House Foundation donates comfort homes, built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.
Freedom Calls http://www.freedomcalls.org/
The Freedom Calls Foundation is helping families videoconference with their loved ones in Iraq. You can donate money to help keep this project going.
Homes for Our Troops http://www.homesforourtroops.org/
Homes for Our Troops assists injured veterans and their immediate families by building new or adapting existing homes with handicapped accessibility.
Operation Air Conditioner http://www.operationac.com/
Operation Air Conditioner provides not only air conditioners but space heaters (the desert is cold in the winter) for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operation Dear Abby http://anyservicemember.navy.mil/
The U.S. Navy and Dear Abby have teamed up. Their site allows you to send e-mail messages of support to service members.
Operation Give http://www.operationgive.org/
Operation Give provides toys, clothing and school supplies primarily to the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operation Hero Miles http://www.heromiles.org/
You can donate your unused frequent flier miles to help soldiers travel on emergency leave. They are also used to help families fly to hospitalized soldiers.
Operation Iraqi Children http://www.operationiraqichildren.org/
Many soldiers are rebuilding schools in Iraq and scrounging around for school supplies. Help by donating a school supplies kit.
Operation Military Pride http://operationmilitarypride.org
Operation Military Pride is a volunteer organization that sends cards letters and care packages to troops.
Operation Uplink http://www.operationuplink.org/
Donate money to Operation Uplink. The money is used to purchase phone cards so servicemen and women can call home.
Treats for Troops http://www.treatsfortroops.com/
Treats for Troops helps get you provide packages to your loved ones overseas. If you don't know anyone, the Foster-A-Soldier Program matches you with a registered soldier by branch of service, home state, gender, or birthday - or you can choose to sponsor a group of soldiers.
Voice from Home http://voicesfromhome.org/home.html
Voices From Home allows military members and their families and friends to send and receive immediate voice e-mail messages in remote locations around the world.