Military Mamas help make holidays brighter for families of Iowa soldiers

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 9:18 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Military Mama Network stretches across the nation with more than 20,000 members. There are more than 150 members in Iowa. They provide cards, care packages, and gifts to soldiers and their families.

This holiday season, the Iowa chapter is facilitating Mission Elf to help military families in need.

Cynthia Valenta, who leads the chapter in Iowa, said the goal is to match families with those wanting to donate food, clothing, and toys. Applications are distributed through the Iowa National Guard, Air Wings, and Survivors of the Fallen. Then, donors are matched up with families.

“Volunteers shop for their wish list and they also provide a Christmas dinner of like a turkey and potatoes, veggies, so that we know they have a meal to celebrate Christmas Day,” Valenta said.

Valenta, who is the mother of a service member, said these efforts help families in the toughest of times.

“I read those applications and it just breaks my heart,” Valenta said. “There’s a mother, she was active duty in North Carolina, and moved up here to Iowa and joined the guard. And she was pregnant at the time, and she went into labor prematurely and so her baby is in the ICU right now. She’s all by herself, she doesn’t have any family.”

Valenta said there are still several families who need to be matched with donors.

“We’re Iowans, that’s what we do, help each other out,” Valenta said. “For me, it’s not getting, it’s always giving. Because sometimes, you never know, you might need that support.”

Everything is being done in a virtual fashion this year. Those who want to participate are asked to email Cynthia at or check out the group’s Facebook page or website as soon as possible. The deadline to sign up is Dec. 12th.

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