A patriotic country gives back to the United States military

With the upcoming patriotic holidays and the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the horizon, now more than ever, Americans are looking for ways to honor and support the military.

Every day, service men and women – whose average age is about 20 years old – sacrifice their lives to keep our country safe and there are plenty of ways to give back and show support. Every gesture helps, but what matters most is turning sentiment into action.

One way Americans are giving back is through The Pepsi Refresh Project, which awards grants to projects, both big and small from individuals and organizations, that do good for the community. Since last year, Americans have chosen to award nearly three quarters of a million dollars to military-supportive ideas that receive the greatest number of votes through this landmark fundraising effort.

There are so many worthy organizations out there that offer all of us an outlet to get involved and give back to neighbors and friends who serve this country. Take Molly Gisi, a mom in Portland, Ore., who used her $50,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to let our U.S. troops know Americans care for them by sending care packages through Molly’s Adopt A Sailor. Her organization is always enthusiastically welcoming volunteers. Consider donating CDs, DVDs and books on CD to an organization like Tunes 4 Troops, which sends music packages to the troops around the world as a thank you for their sacrifices. Animal lovers may want to lend a hand to Support Military Working Dogs, which provides cooling vests and other protective gear to help military working dogs in active war zones and extreme conditions.

This month, Pepsi is taking its commitment one step further by issuing a challenge to the American public, asking “How would you honor your hometown troops?” Beginning June 1, log onto www.refresheverything.com and give Pepsi your best answer or, starting in July, click through the hundreds of other entries to vote on your favorite ideas to help ensure worthy organizations receive the funding they deserve.

As patriotic holidays approach, it’s an opportune time to take action, make a statement and show support for the men and women in the military who have put their lives on the line as a commitment to keeping our country safe. Whether it’s putting your own idea into action through The Pepsi Refresh Project, or getting involved in an existing organization, every gesture helps and makes a huge impact.