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Gary Sinise Foundation Blog

Month of the Military Child: Honoring their Part in Service and Sacrifice

April 1st, 2021

This April, the Gary Sinise Foundation is proud to honor all military-affiliated children during Month of the Military Child. During this time, we join the country in celebrating the resiliency of military kids for their service and sacrifice while their parent/s or guardian/s serve at home or overseas.

With programs like Snowball Express and H.O.P.E. (Heal, Overcome, Persevere, Excel), the Gary Sinise Foundation supports military families and their children nationwide. Take a look at some of the ways we show our appreciation to our Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express Gold Star families and the children who continue to bear the ultimate meaning of service and sacrifice.

Gary Sinise Foundation 2020 Virtual Year-End Snowball Express Event.

Throughout the year, the Gary Sinise Foundation hosts various Snowball Express community events to bring children of fallen service members together. By providing fun and beneficial resources in a stress-free environment, we’re creating a community to learn, grow, and make lasting memories with new friends.

Music lessons catalyze a new melody for children of deceased service members.

Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation changed course to provide virtual events for children staying safe at home. During this challenging time, 52 children and teenagers in Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express took music lessons. With this newfound time, the kids were encouraged to train with professionally-trained musicians, including several members from Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.

Financial aid helps Renne Villareal, a National Guard member, special education teacher, and single mother.

In addition to providing support to Gold Star families through Snowball Express, our H.O.P.E. initiative also offers complete support to military families who have experienced trauma, illness, injury, or loss during their times of urgent need, sometimes with assistance as simple as help paying bills or buying groceries.

In 2020, Renee Villareal, a single mother, National Guard member and special education teacher, was living paycheck to paycheck when the pandemic struck. With all her primary sources of income drying up, Renee reached out to the Gary Sinise Foundation for support. To keep her and her three-year-old daughter, Natalie, afloat, the Foundation paid two months of her rent through the Emergency COVID-19 Combat Service campaign. Villarreal also received a Walmart gift card to cover the costs of groceries and other out-of-pocket expenses, such as buying diapers. Continue reading about the Villareal family’s experience here.

Gary Sinise Foundation Snowball Express visits the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium.

In 2019, we hosted Snowball Express families from Georgia at the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Children and teenagers had the opportunity to visit and learn about the large array of sea life and partake in live demonstrations. Watch the full video of the event here.

Check out some of our partners and their impactful missions to support military children year-round!

Gratitude Initiative: A non-profit whose mission is to provide educational support and college scholarships to the children of our military service members, veterans, disabled veterans, and those killed in defense of our country.

Angels of America’s Fallen: A non-profit whose mission is encourage and fund healthy positive activities for the children of fallen firefighters, military and law enforcement. Between grief counseling and scholarships others provide, Angels stands beside the children all year, every year until adulthood.

Camp Hometown Heroes: A non-profit that provides support, healing and recognition to first responders, the military community, and children & families in need. Through leadership development and the creation of service opportunities, Camp Hometown Heroes trains and inspires the next generation of leaders.

This month, help us honor and support the children of military families by donating to initiatives like Snowball Express and H.O.P.E.

Written by Savannah La Liberte