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Local youth reach out to military families


Purdue Extension offices are distributing care packages for military families that were assembled by LIFE (LaGrange Independent Foundation for Endowments) members and many other students during LEAP (Leaders Excited About Philanthropy), which took place on April 26 at Lakeland High School. LIFE is a youth philanthropy pod composed of 20 students from the four county schools and supported by the LaGrange County Community Foundation as well as a grant from the Dekko Foundation.

The students assembled 41 of the "Hero Packs" for families with children who have at least one parent currently deployed. Currently, LaGrange County has 54 children with a parent or sibling serving in the military.

"Indiana is the sixth largest National Guard state," said Ryan Wynkoop, coordinator of Indiana Operation: Military Kids. “We will work with the Indiana National Guard and Family Readiness Groups to make sure Indiana’s military kids are recognized and supported."

The packs contain items such as coloring books, small toys, books, pens and other items. Also included are local materials like a brochure providing information about 4-H, and a handwritten letter from a 4-H member or student to the family. The products were donated by LIFE.

The handwritten letters offer support and thanks to the military families. Those students who are 4-H’ers also share their experiences in 4-H and encourage families to become active in 4-H within their county.

In 1995 the national 4-H organization partnered with the U.S. Army Child and Youth Services and Air Force Family Member Programs as a way to extend 4-H to military families and show support. The military program provides educational materials and information on how to join 4-H. In addition, youth with parents in the military can join 4-H and remain active no matter where they are transferred.

"Indiana does not have an active military base, so military families are located throughout the state and are sometimes isolated without support,” said Wynkoop. “The Hero Packs are a good way to reach them and let them know that the community supports them."

The Indiana Operation: Military Kids partnership is a shared initiative of the U.S. Army Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services and funded by the Army National Guard and Army Reserve in collaboration with Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Learn more at