Regardless of whether or not they agree with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, most people support the troops who are defending us there and elsewhere. There are things all of us can do to show our support for the troops and help make their lives a little better. And there are things that are especially appropriate for secret shoppers to do. Here is how you can get involved . . .
There are many organizations that send packages to the troops serving overseas. These packages include some of the extras that are much appreciated by our fighting men and women. More than that, they let our brave soldiers know that they are remembered and appreciated by the folks back home.
All of these organizations can use cash donations to help pay for postage and supplies. Letters and cards with personal messages to the troops are also welcome. Most of them accept donations of items to put in the packages, and can use volunteers to help assemble and ship everything.
If you belong to a mystery shopper meet-up group your group may want to put together and ship a bunch of packages, or just collect things that can be donated to one of the groups listed below.
You or your group may choose to purchase items to donate and solicit donations from others who want to help. The most-requested items are not expensive or difficult to find. Although most items should be new, like-new DVDs, music CDs and books may be donated.
If you are crafty, you might want to make some cooling bandanas to keep soldiers cool in the desert heat. You can find directions here: http://www.watersorb.com/polymer_cool_neck_bands.htm. Be sure to use fabric in appropriate colors: tan, khaki, etc.
As you mystery shop, you acquire many items that would be appreciated by our troops serving overseas. For example, packets of condiments (e.g., ketchup, hot sauce, dipping sauces, etc.), moist hand wipes, sugar packets, plastic utensils and other items are routinely handed out to customers. At the end of a busy mystery shopping day, you may have a collection of these things. Instead of throwing them away, put them aside for the troops.
Of course, you should not grab handfuls of these things. Restaurants put them out for the use of customers during their meals, not to supply a pantry. However, I usually find lots of these things in my carry out bag, even without requesting them. Rather than toss them, I use them or donate them.
There are many shops where you are required to make a small purchase to get a receipt. You may choose to use these purchases to obtain inexpensive items to donate, such as gum, candy, cookies, trail mix, granola bars, playing cards, batteries, etc.
For more ideas and to learn how you can help, you can visit these web sites and others:
The Department of Defense web site with links to organizations that help the troops: