Serving our country’s kids

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Linda Davidson founded Our Military Kids in 2004, and the nonprofit has donated $22 million to date.

What began as a modest effort to help military families after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 has turned into a nonprofit that has now donated more than $22 million to families in need.

In honor of its 12 years of dedication, Our Military Kids was awarded a $35,000 donation at the 2016 ABC Kids Expo in October from All Baby & Child Corp. Linda Davidson, founder of the nonprofit, says the financial support as well as the exposure from being named an ABC 2016 beneficiary was invaluable.

Baby & Kids: How will you spend the $35,000?
Linda Davidson: We give out, this year will be 4,000 grants to children living throughout the country, and this money is specifically committed to our 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children, so (the donation) is huge for us. This is really the only corporate sponsorship of this age group, so it’s really important for our organization.

B&K: Why do you give grants?
LW: We provide grants to the children of our deployed, reserve and National Guard and children of the wounded. The grants cover fees for sports programs— so that can be gymnastics, martial arts, fine arts programs like dance or music lessons, or even tutoring for children—to help them stay at grade level while Mom or Dad are overseas for a year at a time.

B&K: Why do you target kids?
LD: As service men and women heal from their visible and invisible wounds of war, we help support their kids with an activity of their choosing, and we’ve provided some 55,000 grants throughout the country. It not only helps keep the child active and focused on something positive, but it also helps relieve a lot of stress and anxiety that the child is experiencing being separated from that military parent. It also helps get those military parents back into the community again.

B&K: Why did you start this endeavor?
LD: I do not have any connection to any military members, and that was one of the reasons why I was inspired to do it. It’s a result of 9/11 and hearing some of the stories about military and National Guard families who didn’t ever expect having to be deployed overseas for a year at a time and how their children were responding to that separation. I thought it was an opportunity or a time to give back in some meaningful way and to say thank you to those who serve and protect us.

B&K: How can retailers help?
LD: Donations allow us to serve and thank more families for their service. So retailers can help spread the news by having a donation box, and it’s a win-win because people appreciate the patriotism, if you will. We’ve also had retailers do percentage sales on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Fourth of July or the month of April (Month of the Military Child). Or they might offer a small percentage of revenues for a time to support our military kids, which would be wonderful.