5 Ways to Honor the Real Reason for Memorial Day
by Kenny Rhoads
At Multitable, we believe Memorial Day is not about sales, marketing, or gimmicks. To us, it is about honoring the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. We believe one of the best ways to do that is donating to charities dedicated to helping current members of the military and Veterans.
While there are hundreds of charities to help those that serve, it’s important to put your hard earned dollars where they are going to do the most good. We have done the research for you to weed out charities that spend too much on overhead and fundraising. If you donate to any of these charities, you can be confident that your contribution will be used wisely and efficiently. To find out more information about charities and how to investigate them on the web, go to either give.org or charitywatch.org.
1. Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund started as a way to provide financial support to the spouses, parents and children of United States military personnel lost in performance of their duty. In 2005, a new law dramatically increased the benefits granted to these families, making the Fund’s original mission obsolete.
Now, the Fund has redirected its mission toward helping severely injured military personnel and Veterans. In 2007, the Fund opened The Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation facility at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. The center is one of the best places in the world for amputee and severe burn patients, providing ample facilities for the rehabilitation needs of its patients. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is also building a series of Intrepid Spirit centers that will further enhance the provision of traumatic brain injury and psychological health care for America’s wounded heroes.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund consistently gets put on the top of lists for having low overhead and fundraising costs, while directing the maximum amount of money toward Veteran services. You can learn more about the charity here, and can donate through the charity’s website here.
2. Fisher House Foundation
The Fisher House Foundation gives military and Veterans’ families a place to stay at no cost while their loved one is receiving medical care. The homes are located at major military and VA medical centers around the country, and have housed more than 222,000 families since 1990. For families in a time of need, having the peace of mind of knowing where you can sleep at night and not worry about the cost can relieve immense amounts of stress and anxiety.
The Foundation also operates the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heros programs, which use donated frequent flyer miles and hotel points to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members. More than 73,000 flights have been purchased using miles since the program’s inception. On top of that, the Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds. You can read more about ways to donate to the Fisher House Foundation here.
3. Homes for Our Troops (HFOT)
Homes For Our Troops builds mortgage free, specially adapted homes for severely injured Veterans and their families. For Veterans that have lost mobility or have brain injuries, these specially adapted homes with hand rails, ramps, and more have the ability to restore the freedom and independence lost during their service. On top of that, the financial freedom that comes with not having a monthly mortgage allows these Veterans to embark on new careers, create businesses, finish college degrees, start families and help others.
As of April 2015, HFOT built 187 specially adapted homes nationwide. Since its inception in 2004, 90 percent of donations have gone to directly support Veterans. The charity builds these homes where the Veteran chooses to live, and continues its relationship with the Veterans after home delivery to assist them with rebuilding their lives. Read the heart-lifting stories of those helped by HFOT here, or learn more about donating here.
4. The Semper Fi Fund
The Semper Fi Fund is a national leader in giving both immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to those wounded since 9/11. The Fund helps members of all of the branches of the armed forces and their families, ensuring they have the resources they need as they transition back to civilian life. The Semper Fi Fund was started by a group of Marine Corps spouses, and is still run by that same group along with their families and members of every service branch. Since 2004, the charity has issued more than 91,500 grants, totaling more than $107 million to over 13,800 of our heroes and their families.
The Semper Fi Fund has been awarded the highest ratings from watchdog groups: A+ Top Rated Charity from CharityWatch, and 4 Stars from Charity Navigator, a rating only given to 4% of all charities. To donate directly to the Semper Fi Fund, go here.
5. United Service Organization (USO)
The USO gives a taste of home to those serving abroad. The USO was created as a nonprofit by congress back in 1941, but is not part of the federal government. In addition to putting on shows with big names like Stephen Colbert and the band Chicago, the USO provides invaluable care packages to military members and their families.
The charity also operates more than 135 centers worldwide, including 10 mobile canteens in the U.S. and overseas. Services include free Internet and email access, libraries and reading rooms, housing assistance, family crisis counseling, support groups, game rooms and nursery facilities. For those serving thousands of miles away from friends, family and home, these little tastes of America and convenience can brighten a day, making serving long tours that much better. You can learn more and donate online here.
Make Your Money Count
While we have vetted the above charities for you, if you decide to donate to a different charity, it’s important you take precautions. Here are some tips from Clark Howard, a consumer expert and radio host.
● Don’t give cash. Legitimate charities will take a check.
● Don’t give credit card, bank account or personal information to telemarketers. If you want to give, initiate the call.
● Don’t give to Internet appeals if the cause does not look legitimate and doesn’t check out.
● Don’t give in to pressure. Anyone that can’t wait for a donation while you check out his or her organization is likely to be a crook.
● Check out the charity with national, state and local authorities. Established charities register with the Internal Revenue Service. You can search for specific non-profit organizations on the IRS website, irs.gov.
● Report abuses to the nearest Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General’s office. Both are listed in local telephone directories. You can also report abuses to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060. NFIC also has a web-based complaint form at fraud.org.
At MultiTable we not only talk the talk, but we walk the walk. MultiTable will donate 10% to the charities listed, split evenly between them, on all purchases made over Memorial Day weekend (May 23-25). We encourage you to take the time to donate as well.
Want to share your own stories about loved ones who have sacrificed for their country? Did we miss a charity you want to highlight? We want to hear your thoughts and stories. Just let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.