January 29, 2003 / South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Point Vietnam veteran sets up fund to help kids of parents in
He kissed his two kids goodbye, told them to be brave and left
for Vietnam not knowing when he'd return.
of that moment in 1968 came flooding back to John Ghee last week
as thousands more children parted with parents who were recently
called to serve in a possible war with Iraq.
time Ghee, 58, an Army veteran from Lighthouse Point, will serve
his country by helping children of active service members.
created Operation Brave Kids, a fund to support families of
Florida National Guard's infantry battalion. Hundreds of
soldiers from across South Florida were deployed two weeks ago
as part of the company's largest mobilization since World War
want to show these troops that we're doing what we can for their
children back home," said Ghee, who spent a year separated
from his own children, Johnny and Jill, then 4 and 2, while he
was overseas. "It's really hard to face the unknown when
you have a family."
set up a fund at Wachovia Bank last week and is asking the
community to make donations. The money will be used to purchase
$25 gift certificates each month for children under age 18 who
have parents in the military. The certificates can be used at
Publix, Toys "R" Us, McDonald's or any other location
the family chooses. Ghee said he had set up the account within a
few days of coming up with the idea.
it wonderful? He did all the right things really fast,"
said Fonnie Castino, vice president of select banking at
Wachovia who helped Ghee establish the account. "We're very
pleased to be a part of this."
Wachovia branch in Broward County will accept contributions for
Operation Brave Kids. Families can also register children to
receive gift certificates by filling out forms available at each
bank or on the fund's web site: www.operationbravekids.org.
goal is to support every child of military members in Broward,
Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. He said he has 20 volunteers
ready to mail monthly gift certificates.
far, Ghee said he raised $3,000 in donations from fellow members
of the Pompano Beach Exchange Club, a business organization.
have several guys in our club who are very patriotic," said
president Phil Linville. "We stand for our country, our
flag and our kids. It's a brilliant idea. John's imagination is
very, very vivid."
also summoned the help of his friend Brian Schmitt, who owns
Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate in Marathon, to support
children of service members in Monroe County.
said his company will donate an annual $300 to every one of them
through its charitable foundation.
John called me last week and told me about this, I told him
right away we'd be participating," Schmitt said from his
office in the Keys. "It's a nice token of our appreciation
for all of the service members that are serving our
© 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel