Since I began with this organization, I have watched it grow from just a state organization to a regional organization. Channel six, an affiliate of NBC, has honored the founder, Marc Badeau, as a 2010/2011 NBC “6 Who Care Award” Recipient. The Governor has honored this organization by giving it the 2011 Maine Governor’s Award as Maine’s Outstanding Non-Profit and Vermont has just nominated this group for their Outstanding Non Profit. This year over 32,000 Christmas presents were given to children of military personnel in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts of Western New York. Every year this group grows and grows and will soon become nationwide with your help.
I was involved with Operation Tribute for a few years now. I have been more involved with the fundraising end with the Knights of Columbus. The program is first rate in that it is not a needs based program but a tribute to the unsung heroes of the military services, the children. The anxiety that the children have is just as real as the adults but they seem to be overlooked. This program brings them to the front line so to speak and recognizes them for their sacrifice of their parents. I currently sit on the board for the State Deputy of the Knights of Columbus and I am very proud to be a part of this organization.
I became involved with Marc Badeau in 2007 when he launched Operation Holiday Cheer (OHC), a program designed to provide a holiday gift to each child of Maine's military families that desired to participate. The premise was elegantly simple, regardless of one's beliefs about the war, the children of Maine's military familes deserved a show of support and appreciation for their sacrifice as children of military members who were deployed or facing deployment. In that first year, 8,000 gifts were distributed to over 140 cities and towns in Maine with a personal letter addressed to the child. Renamed, Operation Tribute, the program now recognizes the children of those serving, regarless of service or component and has expanded from Maine to include all of New England, New York and New Jersey. Not suprisingly, expansion over the entire Eastern seabord is the next step. I was so impressed by the purpose, organization and impact on the children of the Maine National Guard that I volunteered to serve on the Board of Directors.
I have been a member of the Operation Tribute since before it was formed. I was the first person with whom Marc Badeau discussed the viability of the project. I have found great satisfaction working with Marc and the rest of the volunteers. I've done everyting from wrapping and sending presents to the children to soliciting major contributors. The final result of reading the thank you notes from the children and their parents makes it all worth while.