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Suddenly military

“Suddenly military” is a term that is becoming all too familiar to families all across the country. It’s a term that children might not recognize, but they understand its meaning.

“Families can be rocking along in their daily routine and suddenly, everything changes,” said Tammy Powell, Pike County Extension coordinator. “One day their lives are normal and the next day they are involved in the military and everything is different.”

Powell was speaking of the activation and deployment of National Guard and Reserve units in the War Against Terror.

“Children are used to their parents drilling on weekends but when a unit is activated, that means that daddy or mama won’t be coming home for months,” she said. “The family’s life changes and that change often causes children great worry.”

For that reason, the Pike County 4-H Council is participating in “Operation Military Kids Hero Pack” as its community service activity.

“As a participant in ‘Operation Military Kids Hero Pack,’ we are collecting items to fill backpacks for about 50 kids who have a parent who has been deployed or soon will be,” Powell said. “These are primarily communication packs that will keep the kid and his or her parent in touch with each other during the deployment.”

Powell said communication is important for children because it helps them cope with the stresses of a parent being away and with the military.

“Suggested items for the packs include postage stamps, envelopes, journals, disposable cameras, photo albums, prepaid phone cards, gift cards, markers, crayons — just anything that will encourage and support communication between the parent and child,” Powell said. “Stuffed animals are also recommended for younger children.”

The Pike County 4-H Council is making worry dolls to be included in the packs.

“The idea for the worry dolls comes from Guatemala,” Powell said. “It’s a custom there to put a worry doll under your pillow at night and, when you wake the next morning, the worry will be gone. It’s just something different that we are adding to our packs.”

The Pike County 4-H council is inviting the Pike County community to participate in the Hero Pack program by donation items or by attending its “Packing” program at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Troy Recreation Center.

Donated items may be dropped off at the Pike County Extension Office on South Three Notch Street in Troy or brought to the “Packing” program on Saturday.

“We invited anyone who would like to participate to join us,” Powell said. “It’s a good program and children and their deployed parents will benefit.”