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Snowball Express

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services, Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

Mission: Honor America’s fallen military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 by humbly serving the families they left behind. Champion their children’s future success by creating opportunities for joy, friendship, education, and communal healing, by connecting these families to one another.

Target demographics: the children of America's fallen military heroes

Geographic areas served: communities accross america

Programs: During the year Snowball Express hosts families of our fallen military heroes at many community events across the nation, providing them an opportunity to stay connected throughout the year. Each December we host the largest gathering in the world of children and families of fallen military. During our annual program held in ft worth, Texas, we bring together nearly 1,800 children and surviving spouses of our fallen military heroes. We plan and design events that enabled these children to meet other children just like them, make new friends, and we provided an opportunity for communal healing by connecting these families together. Over the 5 days in Texas, we host events throughout the community that connected the children and widows/widowers, and we also provided the public an opportunity to show their gratitude to these families for the tremendous sacrifices they have made for our freedom. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- highlights of our events: a welcome event to honor the families in ft worth, tx with a public walk of gratitude, a day at the movies and perot museum of nature and science, an evening at the fort worth joint reserve base, with a special performance to honor the families by gary sinise and the lt. Dan band, and a special show performed by shows in a box. We also provided educational and inspirational opportunities. In addition to the bonding that occurs during the events, we designed special rooms and family lounges that enabled both children and adults to relax each evening, connect, share with one another, and bond in a wonderful atmosphere. We also provide a family resource room at the hotel where we invite support organizations to meet with the families. The family resource room was designed to provide special support services to the families,and an opportunity to connect with these services. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------vet center counseling services: on-site at the hotel and mobile van at every off-site event (the mobile van traveled to each event and was available for counseling services if needed any time of the day) veterans administration: burial expenses, markers, headstones, death pensions, educational assistance (va, special needs, gi bill, etc), champva (health care), life insurance and any other va programs or applications for programs. Survivor outreach services: non-government volunteer group that helps with all of the above, plus financial investment counseling from experts gold star spouses: the primary mission of gsw is to provide service, support and friendship to the widows and widowers of military personnel who died on active duty or as the result of a service connected cause. Id cards and dependent enrollment: the vital item required to enter all of the above service related benefit programs. Probably our busiest unit, they were able to assist families with enrollment families and produced nearly 100 id cards. We also have members of the tragedy assistance program for survivors (t. A. P. S. ) present at every event. Taps certified grief counselors provide comfort and care through comprehensive services and programs including peer based emotional support, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, and grief and trauma resources.

Community Stories

141 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last year was my first year to volunteer with Snowball Express. I was so blessed to be a part of something that was so impactful for the families of our fallen soldiers. I plan to volunteer for many more years. I tell everyone I know about this organization and their events.

Blessed Beyond Measure

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was part of the working crew members for SBE 2016. We flew into LAX to decorate the plane the night before. In the morning, we flew families of fallen heroes from LAX to SMF to PHX, then finally DFW. It was the most exhausting day of my entire 33 year career at American Airlines, but the most memorable. I have signed up again this year to help make special moments for the heroes families. It is definitely a worthwhile event to be a part of.

Eric C.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The people that volunteer are so committed to the children they serve. It is awesome to be a part of the team to serve our veterans

Client Served

Rating: 5

Snowball Express was and continues to be our rainbow after the storm. They know how to make our families feel loved and included. We have made some lifetime friends and unforgettable memories. They give some much and ask for NOTHING in return. We love SBE!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a flight attendant for American Airlines and every year I volunteer for Snowball express to bring the families of our fallen soldiers to Dallas ...we decorate the airplane for Christmas we decorate ourselves we fly from base to base picking up the families feeding them ,laughing with them ,singing with them ,giving them gifts and bring them to Dallas for an amazing few days of fun and frolic... These children and family members of the soldiers that have served our country ...need and deserve a little cheer and happiness in their lives because their losses have been huge... It's a very rewarding amazing and humbling experience to be part of the Snowball express family ...

Debbie LoPresto B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Snowball Express is an absolutely amazing organization that sends military widows/widowers and their children on an all expense paid 5 day trip where you are surrounded not only by a couple thousand people that have experienced similar loss and trials as you but also by volunteers who love on you, support you and honor your fallen soldier. It is a time of bonding and making new friendships that last a lifetime along with having fun and opportunities you might otherwise not be able to experience. The city of Dallas/Ft Worth opens their arms up to us. We have police escorts, fireman and civilian lining the streets and highways we travel and a Walk of Remembrance that will make anyone tear up as you see the love and support they give us. During the day we do all sorts of fun activities and at night they take the kids and let us have a much needed break. Another really neat event they do is taking the kids "shopping" in the Neiman Marcus store so they can get their surviving parent a Christmas gift. Before my son attended Snowball Express, I never got a present from him as his daddy was the one that would always take the kids out to buy presents for me. You laugh, you cry, you have fun and meet new people and strengthen the relationships with those you may only see once a year at this event. Thanks for the memories, Snowball Express!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am grateful and humbled for the opportunity to serve with and for Snowball Express. I know their mission, vision, and goals. As one who volunteers with Snowball Express I watch miracles take place everyday of Snowball Express.
I watch children who have walked through tragedy at a young age that most of us could not even imagine. I see these precious children of our honored fallen heroes encounter understanding and form meaningful relationships with peers who know and have known in real time the challenges they face and overcome. I see joy come into the faces of the children that as a civilian I would have thought would be impossible. I watch these children, parents, guardians, and grandparents gain increased strength, vision, new dreams, and restored purpose.

I come to Snowball Express to serve these families I have grown to love in whatever manner possible. When I made the decision to volunteer for Snowball Express I asked myself “Why do you want to serve?”. I continued to ponder this for a few days.
I thought of our Gold Star families’ fallen Hero. Then came my answer. These words wrote on my heart from the perspective of their Hero (their mom, dad or both):
“ You want to thank me, you want to honor me, then take care of my family”.

This is my “Why”.

Serving with Snowball Express is fun and fulfilling. But do not mistake it is not easy. We work and do whatever it takes to provide our Gold star families with happy memories.
The only way to serve optimally in this venue is to be willing to give it all you got and this is different for each person.
The leadership and staff of Snowball Express watch out and care for our Gold star families, volunteers, and staff so you do not have to be a rocket scientist or an olympian. Just be someone who comes with their heart and commitment. The staff and captains will provide you with the directions needed to serve. You do not need to be a veteran or belong to an organization although all are welcome.
I went online and read about Snowball Express’s mission, vision, goals, and results. I filled out the online form to volunteer. I am not part of a group just an individual civilian. Snowball Volunteer services reached out to me and that is how I started.
This year will be my fourth year to serve with Snowball Express. What I began to realize
over the years is how much Snowball Express has changed me. My heart has enlarged in ways I do not have the words to express.

Volunteering with Snowball Express is a treasured opportunity. The lives touched every year is priceless.

Respectfully,
Fostina W. Gurley

Donor

Rating: 5

I know kids of fallen soldiers that love the things this organization does for them. I am a huge fan of Snowball Express based on the information I get from them.

Jim D.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is the best help for the children of fallen, my wife have been working with pleasure in the sewing room putting patches on leather vest the P G R gives them, what a joy to be involved with this.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last year was my first experience with Snowball Express. Working with the people in this organization and seeing how they help people is incredible. I will be volunteering my time this year and every year as long as I am able.

Darryl Egg S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What an unbelievable showing of support to our families of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country! American Airlines employees, many of whom are USAF Veterans, take such great pride in supporting this charity!

Scott J.1

Donor

Rating: 5

It is an incredible organization!!! All you have to do....is see the look on the kids faces!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This will be our 3rd and final Snowball. My son is graduating H.S. next year. I am so grateful to ALL Snowball Express Staff and volunteers. My Son and my Husband were each others, Best Buddies. He is an introverted, except when he is at Snowball with the friends he met 3 yrs ago. They keep in contact periodically via text We live in an area, with no military facilities or familes nearby. So, Being a part of the Snowball family has, given us the opportunity to meet life long friends. Who understand us full of joy and laughing and maybe 5 minutes later cryjng our eyes out.

Snowball is the number ONE Non-Profit in my family.

Donna Shannon
Spouse of SFC Michael P.D. Shannon
Kabul, Afghanistan 2010




Volunteer

Rating: 5

Best and most satisfying event you could ever do in your life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Can't say enough nice things about Snowball Express (SBE) and it's staff. They are a truly amazing group of dedicated and caring individuals who go above and beyond to serve the deserving children of our country's fallen military heroes. You just need to visit the SBE program in Dallas once to see the tireless effort, the unselfish dedication, and the culmination of a year's hard work that goes into serving these children and their surviving spouse, or Gold Star volunteer over the course of a five day event.
And then there are the countless number of other volunteers who come together over these 5 days to make certain that this event is bigger and better than it was the year before. Why, because these children deserve this and the volunteers are committed to making this an event that they can appreciate now and remember for years to come.
This will be my 10th year to volunteer. It's one of a select few charities that gets my support and money every year.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And since these military men and women made their sacrifice, volunteering to assist SBE and these surviving children is the least I can do. I was blessed and never got drafted for VietNam. This is my 'draft' and the the least I can do to support such a worthy cause.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

2nd year serving with Snowball Express on Military Appreciation day at the Texas State Fair. Its always a pleasure meeting new people and hearing stories from our vets. The people I serve with are amazing and always out to make sure we have everything we need. I look forward to helping make this December a success.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone should see this most incredible heartfelt compassion that Snowball Express, American Airlines and sponsors put on for one the most deserving of causes. If for just brief fleeting moments, Snowball Express provides so many diversions for our military families from the wretched agony of loss that our greatest of heroes families suffer constantly when their loved ones are taken protecting the greatest nation.
It is a venue where life long bonds are forged where wives and mothers, fathers, sons and daughters can laugh together and can cry together. They can visit and visit and visit and relate and relate and relate, where the rest of the world simply cannot. It is such agony of despair and sorrow that each of them can share and gather some hope of inner peace and knowing that so many others have experienced such devastating fate. It gives everyone the strength to ' keep on, carrying on'.
It is just such an honor for all of the people involved with Snowball Express. The generosity of the sponsors, the corner stone and stellar support from American Airlines, that for myself and my winsome little pug where she provided such a multitude of smiles after smiles, comments and pictures from unmeasured attendees.
Everyone should see what a blessing, moving and so humbling of an experience that it is.

Timothy Wayne van Deest

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Patriot Guard Rider, I was introduced to Snowball Express 10 years ago. When I saw what they were doing for the families of our men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, I could not stop thinking about it. I have been involved every since, and when I see families and kids that I have seen before, and they remember me, it usually brings me to tears.
I no longer take my bike, and am now a full time volunteer. Seeing the healing and bonding among the families is the greatest enjoyment of my year, each and every year.

Donor

Rating: 5

My nephew, his wife and my cousin have been in the military for years. I've heard many great things about the Snowball Express. I support them as one of my go-to charities! Thanks to Gary Sinese too! Good luck!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with the Snowball Express for the last two years. I just love how organized they are and the sincere attention to details for every family. They extend themselves over and over again. The first time I volunteered I was in the children's section. Loved how they protected the surroundings of all and made it a fun time to volunteer. Last year, I was placed at the entrance to help the families with directions after getting off the bus. What a great time it was to be able to help in this area. This is one of the best places to volunteer and receive your reward before you leave the parking lot. The reward is the feeling of being a blessing to so many lives!!!!!!!