Operation Sending Hope: Making the Holidays Brighter for America's Military Families

Life presents challenges for military children. Many suffer from separation anxiety because their parents are stationed far away. There are additional worries because mom or dad is working in dangerous places. And there are the constant moves. The average military child will attend between six and nine schools, according to the Council for State Governments. Being the new kid on the block is rarely easy but being the new kid every year can often lead to bullying issues as these boys and girls try and make new friends and fit in.

"Many military families are National Guard and Reserves. These families are often stationed in remote areas, distant from a military group who understands the unique factors of their family,:" says Mariel Barreras, Director of the Homeschool Association for Military Families. "As a result these military children have a difficult time adjusting to an already established "click" of students. They are generally not accepted and are emotionally bullied. This leads to low self-esteem and academic challenges."

This week, the American Public Education Foundation has announced its' second annual "Operation Sending Hope", a video/photo contest that asks students nationwide to create messages of "hope" and "thanks" to military boys and girls who may be without a parent this holiday season. The contest is announced each year on the week of Veteran's Day as a way to say "thank you."

"This project acknowledges the service and sacrifice of our nation's military children. Service men and women are deployed around the globe, and messages of support like this are an important reminder that schools and communities care," says David Pickler, President and Co-founder of the American Public Education Foundation (APEF).

Beginning November 7, students in grades 3 - 12 from across the U.S. are being asked to send a 15- to 30-second videotape message - OR photo - with a personal message. A "Message of Hope" can also be submitted from an entire classroom. A parent or teacher must be present to authorize the taping. All entries submitted to APEF and its 9/12 Generation Project will be judged on content and quality of the video as well as the ability to follow instructions. The deadline for submission is Monday, December 7.

Top "Messages of Hope" will win cash prizes, with winning submissions featured on the APEF website as well as local television channels. All videos will be placed on the APEF YouTube Channel which may also be viewed by military boys and girls nationwide and overseas.

Emmett McDowell, a New Jersey police officer, spent two years overseas in Iraq and says he loves the idea of a contest that recognizes military children. "People forget how much these children sacrifice. It would have given me a great deal of comfort to know someone was thinking of my daughter when I was overseas."

According to the Department of Defense, U.S. military personnel are deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, leaving many children without a parent this holiday season.
To help bring a smile to a military child and honor the sacrifice of our nation's military families, log onto www.theapef.org

About APEF: The American Public Education Foundation (APEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to help educate, inspire and lead with all those involved in public education and prepare the next generation of leaders for engaged citizenship. APEF was founded by nationally recognized education leaders to help ensure America's economic and national security interests through public education.

* The 9/12 Generation Project is the service-learning division of APEF. The project offers free educational resources that support Character Education and anti-bullying curriculum by teaching the following core values: Compassion, citizenship, kindness, diversity, volunteerism, and overcoming tragedy through hope.