You'd think it would be enough that U.S. forces are showing great progress bringing Shias, Sunnis and Kurds together. But no. They're bridging divisions at home, too, inspiring Americans to unite in a cause greater than themselves, as John McCain is fond of saying.

The cause is simple enough: Help the troops or local civilians. Some of those involved have family on the ground; others just hope to counter the horrors of war by doing good. Some are supportive of the military and their mission; some are opposed to war.

Several nonprofits supporting service members are registered with the Defense Department at


. When the site began in 2004, four groups signed up, says Allison Barber, a deputy assistant secretary. Today, there are more than 380.

"The American people just have this insatiable appetite to support the troops and their families," Barber says. That outreach, she says, "is so vital to the overall morale and success of the military."

Lisa Kirstein of Voorhees, wasn't feeling the love when her son Anthony joined the Army after graduating from Eastern Regional High School in 2005. The initial reaction of many was: How could you let your son do that?

"Many people were not supportive at all," Kirstein says. "When they heard we had a son in Iraq, they were appalled."

With Anthony, now an Army specialist, deployed since October, that attitude has softened. It started with people who wanted to support Kirstein asking, What can we do? What do you need?

Well, Anthony had some ideas for them. And Treats for the Troops was born.

The first request was pretty simple. Anthony told his family that in the Iraqi schools he visited, the students were lucky to have one pencil for every 10 kids. Would his brother Zach, a student at Signal Hill Elementary School, collect pens and pencils and send them over for Anthony to give away?

That was about 100 care packages ago. And Anthony now makes requests for Iraqis and his fellow soldiers: coloring books and Beanie Babies; candy and Slim Jims; lip balm and hand lotion; Frisbees and horseshoe sets; beach chairs and umbrellas.

The support has been overwhelming. One neighbor handed Kirstein a check for $1,000 - about half her shipping costs so far. David Akers of the Eagles is donating footballs signed by fellow players, Kirstein says, and the Camden Riversharks are giving her 500 decks of playing cards.

The Kirsteins often find donations on their doorstep, but local businesses also have become drop-off points - the Blue Tulip Gift Shop and Skewers Restaurant, both in Marlton, and Bernard's Salon & Spa in Cherry Hill. The Voorhees Police Department accepts items 24/7.

Recently, when Kirstein arrived at the post office with a load of boxes, the people in line started piling money on the counter to pay for that day's shipping.

Kirstein opposed the initial invasion of Iraq, but after being with her son and his friends, after communicating with so many in the military as part of her work with Treats, she now believes the mission must be completed. And a big part of that mission, for her, is supporting the troops.

Constance O'Hearn is opposed to the war in Iraq - and the one in Afghanistan. All war.

"I believe that resolving problems through military conflict is outmoded and ineffective," says the lifelong Catholic. "It's not what Jesus called us to do."

Yet when a friend's brother, a Marine officer, wrote home in 2003 requesting warm clothes to help Afghans through a rough winter, O'Hearn, of Arlington, Va., stepped up. Since then, as president of the nonprofit Give to the World, O'Hearn and a band of volunteers have helped ship several tons of clothing for troops to distribute to civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their only expense: postage and packing tape.

Like Lisa Kirstein's group, Give to the World sends packages directly to troops in the field, often the local chaplain's office, which then shares the goods based on local needs. O'Hearn says working with the military helps her envision a day when armies shift from war-making to being "a humanitarian and peace force."

For now, though, she's satisfied with the difference her group and others are making, overseas and here at home.

"This effort cuts across all the divides," O'Hearn says. "People from different countries, of different colors, across the political, religious and social spectrums, all work and contribute things to people they'll never see.

"Their goodness is allowing some comforts in life for people. That makes it worth doing."