McLean, Virginia – Increased deployments by the National Guard have led to a 45% surge in requests for help from a national nonprofit that pays for kids’ extracurricular activities while their parents are deployed overseas. But without an equally large boost in donations – the nonprofit, Our Military Kids, won’t be able to meet the increased demand.
The program – established for children of deployed National Guard and Reservists and children of combat-injured service members from all branches of the military – so far has received 2,085 grant requests in 2018, compared to 1,436 during the same time in 2017. The 45% increase is partly due to an increase in deployments this year, said Linda Davidson, Founder of Our Military Kids. But it also reflects the impact that deployments can have on families. The activities paid for by Our Military Kids are credited with helping these kids manage a challenging time. Without an equal bump from its supporters, Our Military Kids will have to turn away eligible requests – something the nonprofit has never done before.
“Always ready, always there! is the motto of our National Guard,” Davidson said, “but without more support, we’re not going to be there for these families.” Founded in 2004, the goal of Our Military Kids is to provide children of deployed Guard and Reservists a way to manage the stress and anxiety that can accompany a parent’s deployment. In 2008, the program expanded to include children of severely injured service members from all branches of the military. The grants – not to exceed $500 – are aimed at providing children with empowering activities of their choice, like martial arts, STEM programs, dance or piano lessons, and even tutoring, to help them cope with their parent’s absence or recovery from injury. In a 2017 survey of recipients, 97% of families saw improvement in the entire family’s well-being because of the grant, and 93% noticed a decrease in their child’s stress and anxiety.
“These grants have a huge impact on the lives of our military families,” Davidson said. “Deployments can be a very stressful time for these kids. By supporting them and giving them ways to empower themselves, we’re helping the whole family.” She said that based on current demand, the nonprofit will need to raise at least $2 million more than anticipated over the next two years.
“We’re ready to meet the challenge of serving these families, but we need help,” Davidson
said. “Our National Guard and Reserve strive for peace, safety and freedom for all of our families. While they take care of our families, it’s up to us to take care of theirs.”
Our Military Kids is funded entirely through corporate sponsors, foundation grants and individual donations. For the past three years, it has received the top 4-star Charity Navigator rating for its efficiency and transparency. More than 92 cents of every dollar raised goes directly towards children’s activities.
Around 20,000 Guard Soldiers and Airmen are mobilized on any given day around the world, from Afghanistan to Europe and South America. Many of these soldiers have been through multiple deployments, some as many as five or six times. Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard, has projected increased mobilizations next year. As a result, Davidson anticipates that 2019 will result in another increase in requests to Our Military Kids.
Since its founding in 2004, Our Military Kids has given out nearly $24.5 million through more than 60,000 grants. For more information, go to www.ourmilitarykids.org
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