Thursday, September 25, 2008
Dog Tags for Kids: A Volunteer Effort for Kids of Deployed Military Personnel Needs Your Help
Below is a guest from from Steve Thompson of Dog Tags for Kids about this very worthwhile project:
The events that transpired on September 11, 2001, confirmed our patriotism as well as our will to pursue justice and stand together in a fight against terrorism. No one knows this better than the men and women serving in our Armed Forces who were poised and ready to perform their duties despite being put in harm’s way.
Amid the rallying that supported our military efforts emerged small victims that were innocently overlooked. The children of deployed parents, unable to grasp the full meaning behind these long separations, tried desperately to cope with the situation.
Military parents tried to keep a connection with their children while serving overseas and often in conditions that left much to be desired. Letters home would contain soothing words of comfort. But something more was needed to really show the young ones that, despite any absence, mom or dad still cared for and loved them.
Unfortunately, items or tokens of affection were not readily available. So an idea was born out of this need:
Rose Sliepka, an engraver in California, had some first-hand knowledge of the shortage of items for deployed soldiers to purchase as her brother had proudly served in Operation Desert Storm. After hearing one such story of a father in Iraq trying to send items home to his children, it was decided that something small and easy to mail which could be sent from mom or dad was just what was needed.
Thus a new grassroots project was born called Dog Tags for Kids. The concept was simple: a military-style dog tag in the appropriate service color that read “With Love From Dad (or Mom)” along with the country (Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan) and the year. After all, what child wouldn’t be thrilled to wear a tag like mom or dad, especially when it was sent with love from abroad during the parent’s tour of duty?
The program grew like wildfire and became a tremendous hit with the troops and kids alike. In fact, along with the public’s help, a small group of volunteers has so far been able to produce and ship over 360,000 tags overseas to be returned home. It might be a small gesture, but to the children on the receiving end, there could have been nothing better to get and proudly display.
Dog tags from moms and dads soon started appearing on backpacks, book bags and around the neck, keeping the tags close to the children’s hearts. More importantly, the tags generated smiles! Friends and family at home could see the difference the tags made, and in fact reported that this brought many kids out of their shell for the first time since mom or dad went away. Now, no matter where the children were, they could carry with them a reminder of a loving parent.
Despite efforts to raise awareness and keep such a program afloat, the economic times have presented a major stumbling block. While the public’s generosity has been monumental in getting the project this far, it has appeared at times that the organization would fail in its goal to provide a tag for every member in harm’s way that requested one.
Now funds are desperately needed in order for the program to continue in its drive to support our military. And it’s important to note that, unlike other non-profit groups, there are absolutely no administrative fees taken. Thanks to a small but dedicated all-volunteer staff, all proceeds are used exclusively for tags and mailing.
At present we have a backlog of requests from the troops that we are trying to fill as quickly as possible. In order to do that though, we need help. While we certainly hope for contributions, we understand the difficulty for many. In those cases, we hope that, in lieu of donations, some time can be spent in helping us spread the word to others.
Please tell friends and relatives, employers and associates and those commercial entities you support that may be able to help. It only takes 50 cents to send a tag, and the result it produces can’t be had at any cost much less one so low.
For more information and to donate, visit www.dogtagsforkids.com to see letters of thanks and appreciation from the troops as well as pictures of the kids wearing their tags and smiles! It’s a great way to thank our military men and women for the service to their country and help them stay connected to the important ones in their lives.
Visit the site of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel.