More than 500 military children went on a shopping spree at Bryant Commons last week courtesy of United Military Care.
As military families began lining up outside the large metal building near the horse stables April 29, United Military Care Vice President Christina Anthony was busy giving last-minute instructions to more than a dozen volunteers who helped give away shoes, clothing and other items to the children of military families.
“Today, they are going to get to go shopping for free,” Anthony said. “Each child will receive at least 10 pieces — shirts, pants, shoes, headbands, DVDs. … We’re providing goods for military families. It’s very important to our organization to recognize the children serve, too.
“With April being the Month of the Military Child, it’s important to us (for them) to know they are valued and appreciated,” she continued. “Their resiliency to their military family and their sponsors is very important. They bounce back tremendously. We wanted to come out today and thank them.”
Anthony said one thing that is unique about United Military Care’s giveaways is that they are not rank-specific. Her organization, at 400 N. Main St. near Fort Stewart’s gate 2, gives goods to children of active-duty and retired service members, including those who were medically retired. The only thing required for a family’s children to receive the giveaway items is a military identification card, she said.
Anthony is grateful to a number of sponsors, which provide the children’s clothing and other free items. Local sponsors like Walgreens provided sweet treats for the kids during the event, and Geo-Vista Credit Union provided hot dogs, chips and drinks.
“We are very thankful to have a partnership with a program called Kids or K.I.D.S., which is appropriate,” she said. “They have a partnership with Carters, Jamboree, Jack & Jill, OshKosh B’gosh and Mizuno … Most importantly, we’re creating a handprint American flag, so as payment today, they’re giving us their handprint (on the flag) that we can have it up in our office and be reminded on a daily basis that our kids serve, too.”
Mostly smaller children responded to the request for handprints. Moms stood by vigilantly, ensuring the youngsters’ red-painted hands were imprinted on the flag, not their clothing. Hand wipes were available to clean the little hands before they touched anything else.
Each little red handprint interlocked and filled in the 13 red rows on the flag that represent the blood of the patriots who died to make and keep this nation free. The handprint flag represents not only the sacrifice of the patriots and all those who have defended the flag and American freedom, but also the sacrifice of the families of those who served, she said.