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American Forces Press Service
MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 28, 2008 –
“Our Military Kids,” a nonprofit support group, recently reached a new milestone: $2 million in grants awarded for sports, fine arts and tutoring programs.
"The Our Military Kids grant program has been a wonderful way for Americans to thank our men and women serving our country overseas by providing direct and tangible support to their children at home," said Linda Davidson, Our Military Kids co-founder. "The military families participating in the grant program have been extremely grateful."
Our Military Kids, a Virginia-based organization, awarded its new milestone grant on Oct. 20. It awarded its first grant in April 2005, and surpassed $1 million in grants seven months ago.
The organization provides grants to children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and Reserve members. Grants are up to $500 per child, with recipients receiving an average of $350.
Davidson and Gail Kruzel founded Our Military Kids in response to the stories they heard about hardships National Guard and Reserve families face during overseas deployments. Many of these families live too far from a military base to take advantage of low-cost programs offered there, and rely on access to programs available in their own communities, they explained.
It’s often difficult for children of deployed Guard or Reserve personnel to play on local sports teams, participate in community arts programs, or get academic tutoring because fees for these activities can be prohibitive. This is particularly true for families who experience a loss of income when their loved one leaves a civilian job for active duty.
"We heard stories of families second-mortgaging their homes in order to keep their children involved in their activities, or dropping activities completely because of the cost," Kruzel said. "At a time when children most need stability and routine, the extracurricular programs that provide these essentials are being taken from them."
Davidson attributed the success of Our Military Kids to the many generous contributors who have joined in the mission of providing support and recognition to the children of those who wear the military uniform.
"We are most proud of the fact that we have never turned away a single eligible child," Kruzel said. "These parents are making enormous sacrifices for our country, and it is our honor and duty to minimize the sacrifices their children must make at home during their parent's absence."
(From an Our Military Kids news release.)