DALLAS (Army News Service, Dec. 18, 2006) - According to the military command in charge of providing access to items of necessity and convenience to military families the world over, support for America's troops is at an all time high.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the military's oldest and largest exchange service, announced today that contributions to its "Gifts from the Homefront" troop support effort have soared this holiday season, jumping more than 300 percent in November alone.

"Last month, America rallied behind our troops and sent 4,502 Post and Base Exchange gift certificates worth more than $125,000 to our Armed Forces," said AAFES' Senior Enlisted Advisor Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Eaton. "The November response pushed annual contributions to their highest level since this program began in March 2003. With two weeks left in 2006, the American public has already surpassed the total support received last year by 5 percent."

New York led last month's charge, sending 648 "Gifts from the Homefront" worth more than $30,000, while folks in Missouri spread their support of nearly $15,000 out over 738 certificates. Texans got into the holiday spirit as they dropped 253 gifts into the mail in November, and residents of Illinois showed their patriotism as they ordered 189. Florida rounded out the top five states supporting American troops last month as they sent 97 gift certificates worth nearly $5,000.

"There's no 'corner store' in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Eaton. "PX and BX retail operations go where our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines go to provide access to snacks, sodas and entertainment material like magazines, CDs and DVDs. Providing a gift certificate that can be redeemed at one of these locations gives a servicemember an opportunity to take a break and do something totally "all American" during this time of year - shop."

Today, AAFES operates 54 PX/BX facilities throughout Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. The stock assortment found in these exchanges varies from location to location, but even the most basic operation provides access to toiletries, phone cards and cold drinks.

Anyone can send a "Gift from the Homefront" by logging onto <a href="http://www.aafes.org"target=_blank> www.aafes.org</a> or calling (877) 770-4438. From there, the gift certificates may be sent to an individual designated by the purchaser or distributed to "any servicemember" through the Air Force Aid Society, American Red Cross, Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, Fisher House, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Operation Homefront, Operation Interdependence®, Soldier and Family Assistance Center, USA Cares or USO.

As of Dec. 1, 75,659 "Gifts from the Homefront" gift certificates have been sent since the Department of Defense approved the exchange support campaign in March 2003. More than 20,000 of these have been delivered to service members and their families via AAFES' 10 charitable partners.

Page last updated Mon December 18th, 2006 at 09:50