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Internet Volunteering Relieves Stress

Volunteer Opportunities Abound on the Web

Network for Good

Nearly 20 groups, all offering volunteer opportunities, are at your fingertips on the Network for Good web site. Among them: "Operation Dear Abby" or "For Kids" let you email your support to men and women serving in the military, or their children. How much easier could they make it?

Cash donations can provide emergency aid for military personnel and families through the Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Fund, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Free phone cards are given to servicemen and women overseas, made possible through donations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors allows you to donate to those who have lost a loved one in the Armed Forces.

VolunteerMatch

"Virtual Volunteering" is exactly what this nonprofit online service offers. You can hook up with community service organizations around the world that need "virtual" help -- over 30,000 of them.

There are 29 different volunteer categories -- "no shortage of volunteer opportunities," says Willett. For people with a tight schedule, virtual volunteering is a great option. For example, if you know Farsi, you can provide some online help to an Afghan Women's International Organization.

Just complete an online personal profile, which can remain anonymous. Then scan the thousands of openings for those that pique your interest and match your time restraints. Over 80% of the volunteer opportunities get filled, Willett reports.

American Red Cross

Disaster and the Red Cross are nearly synonymous -- and that's certainly true in Iraq. This agency has been helping displaced Iraqis and refugees from bordering countries since before the conflict began. Money to buy basic food items and health supplies is urgently needed, the web site says.

Tammy Moore, a volunteer, helps get emergency messages to people who are deployed. If there's a death in the family, a critical illness, or a birth, she verifies that information and funnels it to the serviceman or woman in the field. People who are interested in volunteer opportunities -- or who want to donate money -- should check out the Red Cross web site or VolunteerMatch.

Here's another idea: A school can adopt a soldier. Moore says her godson's elementary class is adopting her husband, who is stationed in Kuwait. "I provided them with his picture and address, and the kids are going to write letters of support, send drawings. He's going to be very surprised, but he's also going to feel very much appreciated."

Many volunteer opportunities take just a few minutes of your day. But the effort means much to those who benefit.

"This is a difficult time for a lot of military people and their families," Moore tells WebMD. "The Red Cross network helps support the emotional needs of families and loved ones. In war and in peace, we provide that link."

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