War on Terrorism

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Snowball Express: Children who have Lost a Parent Serving in Iraq/Afghanistan

Rotarians in District 5320 have been helping with a project called Snowball Express. It's for all of the 1,200+ children who lost a parent serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq. This is a project of the Rotary Club of Costa Mesa, California, headed up by Mike Kerr, a charter member of that club.

Take a look at

In a nutshell, we're going to fly all the children and their surviving parent/guardian to Southern California this December, throw them a huge party and let them spend a day having fun at Disneyland.

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, has volunteered to fly all the families out on Southwest for free. Oakley is hosting one of the events at their headquarters in Foothill Ranch. Disney is on board. Celebrities are volunteering. We're currently talking people in the Department of Defense about how to notify the families. We want to include a message for them to contact their closest Rotary Club.

These families are having a hard enough time and we don't want to have them spend a dime of their own money to attend. We're not asking for money, but we are asking for assistance. Here's how your club can help:

1. Help us spread the word. Send an e-mail to all your members and have them send it along to people they know. Send it to other clubs in your District or to other Rotarians you know around the country. Send it to any media people in your area.

2. Send us names and contact information for people we can call on for help. We want major companies to get on board to show their support for our troops by underwriting the costs of this event. Better yet, make the call yourself.

3. Help a local family attend the Snowball Express. Help them get to (and from) the airport. Feed their dog. Water their yard. Arrange a temp so they can get off work. It's only limited by your creativity and imagination.

4. Send a gift (or gifts) to the Snowball Express or deliver it directly to the family at Christmas. (If you send something, please make sure it's unwrapped.)

5. Send a letter (or letters) of support to the kids. These could be from your club, a school class or from individuals.

6. "Adopt" a local family. The child/children will have lost a parent. What can your club do to be of service? Perhaps guide kids towards Scouting; older children towards Interact and/or RYLA; the surviving spouse to some job training. The list is endless.

I'm a former Marine officer and a Vietnam veteran so I know what this kind of support means to someone serving our country. They don't mind putting their life on the line, but there are two big fears... not failing their buddies, and what will happen to those they may leave behind.

This is a great project because it's just the right thing to do.

Ray Sanford
Irvine Spectrum Rotary Club
Irvine, California

No comments: