Deployments can be hard for military families while their loved ones are away, but it's especially felt during the holidays. Coming home for the holidays is something many service members can only dream about. But sometimes these dreams do come true.
A family in Sicklerville, New Jersey was reunited when Army Sgt. Kashies Powell surprised his son Kye at his elementary school.
Kye, a first-grader at South Jersey Christian Academy, was overjoyed to see his dad. Powell wasn't due home from his deployment in the Middle East until January.
Both parents helped pull off the incredible Christmas surprise during a special assembly at the school on Dec. 16.
"It's great, its been a long 11 months so its good to see the little ones and my wife and this knucklehead," Powell said.
Earlier this month, another family reunion took place in Mahwah, New Jersey when a dad surprised his daughter during a class assembly at Betsy Ross School.
WLNY-TV reports that Annabel Diamond didn't think she would get to see her dad, Army 1SG Kevin Morse during the Christmas holidays.
Morse had been stationed in Qatar for almost a year but was able to come home just in time for the holidays.
Father and daughter were delighted to see each other.
"Made me feel really good, really happy," Morse said.
Even the school enjoyed the happy occasion, tweeting, "Please join me in welcoming home First Sergeant Kevin Morse! We are grateful for Mr. Morse's honorable service to our country."
Please join me in welcoming home First Sergeant Kevin Morse! We are grateful for Mr. Morse’s honorable service to our country. The reunion with his daughter, Annabel, can be seen on Ch 4 at 5:30 and Ch 2 at 5:50!@BetsyRossMahwah #MahwahConnects pic.twitter.com/Sz1zRpcAVN
— Betsy Ross School (@BetsyRossMahwah) December 5, 2019
For those service members who aren't able to come home for the holidays, there are ways to make the time meaningful even though you are separated by many miles.
1) Use video chat to bring the family together.
2) Connect through social media.
3) Send pictures, letters and kids' artwork.
4) Do something together (while apart) like watch a movie or read a book and discuss it.
5) Send a gift like a recipe or homemade (non-perishable) treat, a book read in your voice or a personalized do-it-yourself craft.
Being apart doesn't mean missing out on your family connection. Technology is a useful tool, where simple ways can help bridge the gap during deployment.