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Nonprofit provides extracurricular opportunities to children of National Guard and Reserves members

Nonprofit gives grants to military families for kids’ activities while parent is deployed.
Nonprofit gives grants to military families for kids’ activities while parent is deployed.(Our Military Kids)
Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 11:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2021 at 11:48 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - One organization is doing its part to lend a hand to military families. Some of us may not think about the toll it takes on children when a parent is deployed or in recovery from a serious combat injury. That’s where Our Military Kids steps in. Their impact has helped thousands of families across the country and even here in Chatham County.

“There are people out there who just want to tell you thank you, and this is an outlet for them to do it,” said Patrick Allen, who served in the U.S. Army for seven years. He was deployed to Iraq twice and was severely injured.

The nonprofit Our Military Kids says deployment and combat-related injuries have a huge impact on families.

“Children have more anxiety when their parents are deployed or in recovery, that their academics suffer because of it. The overall family well-being actually suffers because of it,” said Michelle Criqui, of Our Military Kids.

The nonprofit provides extracurricular activity grants for children of members of the National Guard and Reserves.

“With these grants, these surveys show that the grants allow children to relieve stress and build confidence and have some time that’s theirs,” said Criqui.

“We give kids a chance to pursue a passion through an extracurricular activity grant. The world is their oyster. They can choose whatever they want, whatever makes them strong,” said Kara Dallman, Executive Director of Our Military Kids.

The nonprofit got started a year after 9/11, and the founders wanted to find a way to give back to children whose parents made the sacrifice to serve our country.

“That for me was one of the reasons why I looked into OMK because I knew they were going to be there for the kids. That was really important for me,” said parent Melissa Allen.

The Allens were searching for resources to afford activities for their kids and found out about OMK.

“They are making fun stuff for kids so they just don’t have to stay home because they can meet new people. You can do fun activities and many other things,” said 8-year-old Kara Allen.

“It helps other kids to be inspired by what other people do,” said 10-year-old Patrick Allen.

The Allen kids have been able to learn new skills and find opportunities to have some fun like horseback riding, karate lessons, and different camps through OMK, opportunities the Allens say wouldn’t have been possible for their family without them.

Our Military Kids says they’ve served over 17,000 children and given away more than $28 million in grants to provide for extracurricular activities to kids across the country.

Grants are available for children through their Severely Injured Veteran Program and Deployed Program.

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