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Archive for March, 2010

Vote for Gratitude

We’ve got a lot of great partners who help us serve military families. We’re part of a network of nonprofits that work together to make sure our families have food, shelter and necessities.

Operation Gratitude is one of the many like-minded groups we work with in our mission. They send care packages — more than 500,000 to date — to deployed troops. They’re in the running to win $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project, a fantastic funding program for great ideas from Pepsi Co.

I encourage you to vote for Operation Gratitude. Every time a nonprofit that serves military families gets a much-needed boost in funds and publicity, our clients benefit.

I also hope you’ll vote for your favorite nominee in our Military Motherhood Award. This morning we posted our 20 semifinalists; you can vote only once, and voting will be open through April 7. These ladies really set an inspiring example for the rest of us on how to serve and adapt. We’ll be setting up Facebook pages for each of these ladies; please suggest your favorites to your friends and encourage them to vote, too.

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For the past three weeks, we’ve been accepting nominations for our Military Motherhood Award. The nominations close today. That means we’re about to start sifting through hundreds of stories about the moms who help hold down the homefront.

I’m not a particularly sappy person, but I know I’m not going to make it through all those stories without shedding a few tears. It happened with our Military Child Award as well. The stories of families weathering yet another separation, of service members risking their lives and wellbeing for a country and cause they believe in really touches me.

Especially now that we’ve hit the seventh anniversary of the war in Iraq.  These days, the war is fighting for a place in our popular consciousness as much as for progress on the front lines. It seems like our general public is much better informed about and interested in the latest celebrity marriage crisis than the current number of service members killed in combat.

Sandra Bullock and Elin Woods have had their share of misery, no doubt. But in my mind, it doesn’t compare to the mental wear and tear of repeated deployments on thousands of military families who sacrifice so much so far from the spotlight.

So I’m going to grab my Kleenex before I start reading through the 500-plus nominations we’ve received. A few tears are the least I owe these ladies and their families.

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We’re so pleased to recognize Willie Banks III as this year’s Military Child Award winner.

Military Child Award winner Willie Banks III, 10, with his sister, Talana-Lynn, 6

You can read more about Willie on OH Online. Willie was one of almost 700 children from around the world nominated for the award. Readers voted him into the top five finalists along with Eric Lopez, Andrew Babb, Cavan McIntyre-Brewer and Brandon Schreckhise.

A panel of judges selected Willie as the final winner. The prize is $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a special ceremony in his honor. You can read more about the award on our Facebook page.

Special thanks to Lockheed Martin and TriWest Healthcare Alliance for sponsoring this award.

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