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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Help for Military Families...

A group of volunteers in Yorba Linda, California are doing great things for our Marines and soldiers in southern California. I have been fortunate enough to be invited to a dinner hosted by Bruno Serato of the Anaheim White House and this great group of supporters of our warriors. I am hopeful that this article will inspire other groups to start and conduct similar efforts in support of our military.

In thinking back to my war it is amazing how the landscape has changed. When I came back from Vietnam we were told to not wear our uniforms in public. Today one walks through airports and soldiers in battle dress are applauded. American Airlines welcomes them into the Admiral’s club and when available gives them seats in first class. This group in Yorba Linda is quietly taking similar actions to recognize our men and women warriors.

It all started about 5 years ago, when the Blehms had about 6 Marines in for Thanksgiving dinner. That started them thinking about the holidays. Next was a desire to support military families for the Christmas holiday, because they heard that young soldiers and Marines were enduring financial hardships. Bridget Blehm called the Commanding General at Camp Pendelton who gave his unbounded support and the effort was off and running.

One of the first things the group accomplished after its first Christmas, was to send many families for "A Day of Disney", before the men/women deployed to Iraq almost 3 years ago.

Today Families of Active Military’s goal is to assist families in many areas:
• Christmas for the needier families – they usually assist 7 – 9 families (especially for those with handicapped children, which seem to be many in our military),
• Holiday dinners,
• Deployment goody bags for the military men and women,
• Family outings when the spouse is deployed, etc.

Over the years the supporters have grown in number so that this year there are over 130 people supporting the Thanksgiving feast for approximately 35 Marines and 30 soldiers.

Additionally the group is supporting 7 families for Christmas. The Blehms live in a community with a clubhouse and they will put a tree up at the clubhouse with 4 tags per person in each family. They also like to give them gift cards to buy groceries (most of them put this on their wish list). They also try to give each family $100 for each child. This also allows them to buy their children something from them.

Some local merchants have caught the fever. The group received an email from Camp Pendleton asking if the group could send some instant coffee to some deployed Marines and they said sure, send their addresses. The list received was for 10 squadrons with around 1,500 personnel. The program is going well thanks to the assistance of the Starbuck's located at Yorba Linda Blvd. and Valley View in Yorba Linda, California who joined forces with the group. You might consider approaching your local Starbucks to see if they might help in such a program.

I salute Bridget Blehm and all of the members and supporters of For Families of Active Military.

For Families of Active Military can always use more support. The more support the more that can be done for our warriors. For anyone wishing to help just drop me an email and I will put you in contact with Bridget.

For readers around the country please steal the idea and start your own chapter of For Families of Active Military—our brave men and women in uniform deserve all that we can do for them. We can help with organizational plans if desired. Thanks!
Colonel Bruce B.G. Clarke, Army Ret.
Cindy's Brother
Give Thanks for Freedom,
Posted By Cindy Carnahan At 8:39 AM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
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