One of their managers, Daniel (whose last name isn't being
disclosed for security reasons), was called up for Army
Reserve duty. He left behind the firm's sunny office near
Courtney Campbell Parkway, his wife and two children for war
Employees at AstraZeneca's Tampa business center have
adopted the unit in which Daniel now serves, the 32nd
Transportation Unit, based in Tampa.
They plan to assist children in families that are
struggling because Mom or Dad lost civilian pay after
Their newly formed charity, called Operation Brave Kids,
will send $25 gift certificates to children each month to buy
such items as groceries, sports gear and clothes.
``We know that there are 80 [or so] children of parents
called up to service'' in the 32nd, said Monty Murray, a Tampa
But more children can be helped if the charity grows, he
The group is seeking private and corporate donations. For
example, a donation of $300 would sponsor a child for 12
months, Murray said.
The Tampa Operation Brave Kids is modeled after a similar
chapter in Miami that was recently started by Vietnam veteran
John Ghee. Ghee was concerned about children of the hundreds
of South Florida troops who were leaving for Iraq.
``He remembered that when he went off to Vietnam, he told
his children, `Be brave, I'll be back,' '' Murray said.
Ghee's concern was over the fact that some families see
drastic drops in income when a mother or father is deployed.
Companies are required by U.S. law to keep jobs open for
employees on military duty, but they don't have to continue
paying salaries or benefits.
AstraZeneca plans to keep paying its manager, who's on duty
with the 32nd Transportation Unit for at least a year. Others
aren't so lucky. Some reservists must rely solely on lower
``One fellow's company gave them three months to seek other
benefits,'' said Tina, whose husband is in the 32nd
``These are children who obviously need their pediatrician,
their dental and everything has to change in three months.''
She also is worried about the extended family of a young
soldier who helps support his brother's children.
``He's only 20 or 21 and he lives with his mom and dad.
Between him and his parents, they are raising four
grandchildren,'' Tina said.
Organizers of Operation Brave Kids say that even small
amounts will help.
``Twenty-five dollars does not sound like a lot, but for a
mom with three kids, $75 toward groceries will really mean a
lot,'' says Doug McNamee, who works for AstraZeneca and helped
found Operation Brave Kids.
In South Florida, the Operation Brave Kids chapter has
received calls from reservists' families saying they wouldn't
have asked for help, but the monthly gifts met a need.
The MacDill Family Resource Center in Brandon, a service
center for military dependents, will direct families that
request help to Operation Brave Kids.
Every dollar collected will go to children, Murray said. To
protect the safety of military families, donors and children
won't be matched.