January 31, 2003 / The Miami Herald
Guardsmen a hand
aims to ease burden of active duty
Point accountant woke up with an idea, and a week later he has
corporate help, a website and a plan: $25 gift certificates for
the children of National Guardsmen and reservists for every
month their caregiver is called up for active duty.
child in a household will be eligible for one gift certificate
every month. But the new, nonprofit organization, which now
serves only Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Monroe counties,
will need private donations and further corporate help to make
many of us, $25 is nothing. But to someone who's trying to make
it until the end of the month without having to cancel a dance
lesson or put off a haircut, it could make all the difference,''
said John Ghee, who was in Pembroke Pines on Thursday speaking
to a military support group about Operation Brave Kids. ``We
want the family and the soldier to know the community is
how Ghee says it will work: Families will register and list what
businesses or other services they use. Operation Brave Kids then
will work with those businesses to have a gift certificate
issued. Wachovia Bank will have registration forms at their
branches in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and
Coldwell Banker offices are handling it in Monroe.
during the negotiations for certificates that Ghee hopes the
companies will pitch in. And if they don't, he thinks private
contributions will make up the difference. Ghee said one Monroe
County man has said he'll sponsor all the eligible kids in that
stresses that his organization isn't collecting goods. When it
requests the certificates, he hopes the companies will help with
that cost. But he's not looking for, say, a crate of toys or
some other bulk donation. ''We want to leave this [choice] up to
the families,'' he said.
Ghee, Operation Brave Kids is also about boosting service
members' morale. The Army veteran remembers what it was like to
leave his wife and two small children when he fought in Vietnam.
someone had told me there was a program like this for my family,
when my wife was facing the last week of the month without any
money,'' he said, ``it would have made me feel that much