Pearl River County children of deployed parents eligible for grant
Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2018
As soldiers serving in Bravo Company 155th Combined Arms Battalion left on their yearlong deployment, several of their young children will have to come to terms with the departure of their parent.
Our Military Kids is a nationwide non-profit that seeks to lessen the anxiety these children feel during this time by helping pay for extracurricular activities the child is interested in while their parent is deployed.
According to a release by the organization, Our Military Kids provides grants for those activities and for those children of soldiers severely injured during combat.
The purpose of these grants is to cover up to six months of activities per deployment, the release states.
Gretchen Hitchner, communications director for Our Military Kids, said the organization was founded in 2004 in Virginia after the founders saw the plight of families with loved ones that were deployed.
In 2008 the organization began giving out grants to children of the combat injured to assist in the recovery process because engaging in activities helps them overcome difficult times, Hitchner said.
After realizing that there is a need across the nation, the organization has been working with family readiness groups across various states to reach out to the families in need.
“We knew that Mississippi had an unusually large deployment this year with twenty-five percent of the National Guard being deployed from the state,” Hitchner said.
The grants provide $500 to children enrolled in 5-12th grade for an extracurricular activity. The organization has given out more than 50 grants to children in Mississippi this year, Hitchner said.
The grant covers activities ranging from baseball, dance, swimming, Future Farmers of America, horseback riding and high school band.
Hithchner said they receive funding for the donations from foundations, corporations and individual donors who wish to make a difference in the lives of the families and thank the troops in a meaningful way.
Last year the organization was able to provide about 3,767 grants across the nation, she said.
According to survey response from previous grant recipients, 97 percent of families witnessed improvement in their wellbeing after their child was able to participate in the extracurricular activities, the release states.
Children who have a deployed parent are able to apply for the grant within 30 days of that deployment. Applications for the grant can be filled out online at ourmilitarykids.org.