AMES, Iowa – Communities now have an opportunity to reach out to the 1,200 kids in Iowa whose parents have been deployed to fight the global war on terrorism.
Operation: Military Kids (OMK) is offering up to 15 mini-grants at $600 each to community organizations that want to make a difference in the lives of the children impacted by the war.
Interested organizations are asked to work together with OMK partners including Iowa State University Extension, Iowa National Guard, Army Reserve, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, American Legion or Legion auxiliary, Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies or community schools.
“We’re encouraging communities to work together to build that community support for these kids,” said Chris Gleason, the state military liaison for the Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development program. “The families are so geographically dispersed we have to depend on the communities to provide the support that they need.”
Gleason said it isn’t just kids of military families who are being affected, but also those kids who have a close tie with teachers, coaches or mentors who are called to serve.
She said communities could provide an opportunity for families to come together to meet others in a similar situation in the community and have a moment to think of something other than the stress that they face every day.
“There are a lot of opportunities for people to think of things to do,” Gleason said. “You’re only limited by your imagination.”
Some suggested activities include planning programs that help military kids and the community learn about the areas where their families have been deployed, organize family fun nights for military kids and their families and plan an activity for military kids to use the Mobile Technology Lab available through OMK.
Applications are available at county extension offices and must include a letter of support from an OMK Partner organization representative within the county. OMK is funded by the U.S. Army Child and Youth Services and USDA/4-H.
Applications are due at the Extension 4-H Youth Building, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3630, on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006.
Contact Chris Gleason, (515) 294-1557 or firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.
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Dee Colwell, 4-H county youth coordinator for Harrison County, is surrounded by pumpkins and princesses at a Family Readiness Group meeting in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Colwell plans monthly activities for military kids whose parents are deployed. Pocket sized photos of the costumed kids were laminated to mail to their deployed family member.