CWF recipients empower children in need

In 2010, The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) awarded grants totaling $666,670 to 21 non-profit organizations who work to improve the overall well-being of children. Two of the grant recipients, Our Military Kids and The National Children's Cancer Society (NCCS), spoke during the 2011 American Legion National Children & Youth Conference.

Our Military Kids, based in McLean, Va., provides children ages 3-18 of deployed National Guard and military reserve personnel, along with children of wounded warriors in all branches, with grants that pay for participation in an extracurricular activity. The grants helps ease financial burden that extracurricular activities may inflict on families with a deployed parent.

Our Military Kids has been serving military children nationwide since 2006, awarding nearly 32,000 children with $500 grants for participation in one activity. These activities have included camps, tutoring, fine arts and much more. One grant is offered per deployment, with a goal to honor second grants because "we know how important it is to maintain consistency in a child's schedule during deployment," said Linda Davidson, executive director of Our Military Kids.

The Child Welfare Foundation awarded Our Military Kids $50,100 for the production of a video and a brochure that promotes the organization's mission: helping children effectively cope with deployment. The funds were also used toward the creation of "Top Secret" award packets.

"Top Secret" packets are sent to every child who receives a grant. The packet contains a letter congratulating him or her on the award, a certificate of appreciation, dog tags and a patch, bandana and bracelet featuring "Our Military Kids" logo.

In March, 642 National Guard families whose child(ren) received a grant from Our Military Kids completed a survey. Results showed that nearly 80 percent saw more stress and anxiety in their child(ren) during a deployment. However, nearly every respondent believed that their child(ren) was positively impacted by the grant and that it contributed to improved moral for the child(ren) and the entire family.

"We have heard that our program is one of the most valuable services during deployment because it gives children an opportunity to pursue their unique dreams," Davidson said. "Deployed servicemembers are stressed and busy, yet we still receive letters and calls thanking us for remembering their children."

To learn more about Our Military Kids, apply for a grant or donate, click here

Additionally, there are more than 300,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States, but the long-term effects of cancer are oftentimes never discussed. That's why The National Children's Cancer Society in St. Louis shares about the late effects that may come as a result of cancer and treatment. The organization succeeds with its mission by serving as a financial, emotional, educational and medical resource for children with cancer.

With the help of a $25,000 grant from CWF, NCCS recently launched a survivor video that coincides with its survivor program, "Beyond the Cure." The video educates and inspires childhood cancer survivors to embrace their future and successfully handle challenges that may be ahead of them, and it outlines the areas of support NCCS provides.

"Once kids are done with their cancer treatment, they are not really done with their battle. The ‘Beyond the Cure' video lets children see other cancer survivors and how they succeeded," said Lexi Chopp, a junior at Butler University in Indianapolis and a cancer survivor who understands the long-term battle. Chopp has been in remission for 14 years, but her radiation treatments as a child stunted her growth and is now causing thyroid complications.

Click here to watch the survivor video.