Eight children of our fallen, who were honored on the field at their Hitting for Heroes event last year. This year, they honored over 100 + local military youth, plus 12 children of our fallen. Courtesy of LPE
Little Patriots Embraced is a small non-profit doing big things. Based in St. Louis, their mission is to help military families in need. They offer support for children when a parent is on deployment. Their goals focus primarily on reducing the emotional and psychological stress within families of the U.S. deployed.
I reached out to LPE to discuss how they're helping families deal with deployments, especially the children, during this crucial time in America. Carol Watanabe, Founder and Executive Director, was more than willing to answer my questions. You can see our conversation below!
Tell me a little about yourself and your role at Little Patriots Embraced.
My name is Carol Watanabe, and I live in Town & Country, MO. I am married to a local dentist. My background has been in business. I am currently retired and dedicating my time to Little Patriots Embraced. I am the founder of the organization and currently serving as Executive Director. My role is to manage the day to day activities at the charity.
LPE staff members, Sarah Roberts and Carol Watanabe, with children of HHD 70th Troop Command Missouri Army National Guard at their Project Bear Essential Program for the holidays. Courtesy of LPE
What are some goals Little Patriots Embraced would like to achieve this year?
To raise enough funds to carry out our programs and serve the thousands of military children on bases around the country.
Why do you feel your mission is important?
Children are our future, with none being as special to us as our Military Kids. I feel our mission is important because military families and their children need to be acknowledged and recognized for serving and sacrificing for our country.
What are some different programs that you offer?
Project Bear Essentials (PBE) is a program designed specifically for children who have a parent deployed or who might soon deploy. The goal is to help them as they manage emotional stress due to a parent's deployment and to acknowledge each child for their own service to our country (see our website for more info: http://littlepatriotsembraced.org/youth-development-programs).
Our Military Kids Fit for Life program addresses the ongoing issue of obesity along with stress management. Our program provides tools for long-term success, and encourages the best emotional and physical outcomes for both military youth and their family.
MD-TEC Fund/Program (Military Dependent Tuition, Emergency and Childcare Fund) is to offer monetary assistance for family emergencies and financial support for childcare to help the spouses of deployed military personnel. In addition, when our funding is available our organization provides tuition for military dependent children to attend summer camps of their choice.
Our Deployment Package Program was designed for our military families. It is our goal to deliver this package to each family dealing with deployment. It is our way of saying how much we love and appreciate them for their service and sacrifice. Items in our package can offer emotional and psychological support for family members.
Military kids from Ft. Leonard Wood at their Military Kids Fit for Life program. Courtesy of LPE
How do children come to your organization?
FRG's/FRO's refer families and children in need to our organization,or families can locate us themselves through Ourmilitary.mil, the DOD's community relations website (where LPE has been listed since 2005). In addition, Militaryonesource.mil (a help hotline for military families) contacts us several times a week to help military families in need.
What are some upcoming events you’re holding?
We will be holding a military family recognition day at Johnny Londoff Chevrolet, in Florissant, MO on July 19th.
We are continuing Military Youth Fitness and Music Tour, tentatively set in August at Whiteman AFB. At this event, we will be bringing several of our programs (PBE, MKFFL) as well as a youth concert in recognition of these amazing kids and their service.
We will also be holding our annual toy drive with Eagle Bank throughout the month of November, with drop off locations at all local Eagle Banks, Ballas Dental Care, and the Magic House. All toys received will be distributed to local military children in need at Scott Air Force Base, Whiteman AFB, and Ft. Leonard Wood, as well as to adopted military families around the country. This is an annual event.
Toys collected for their annual Toy Drive-Presents for Patriots (now with Eagle Bank). Courtesy of LPE
What’s the best way for people to get involved?
To make a contribution though our Text2Donate campaign, text LPE to 501501 to make a $10 tax deductible digital donation right on your phone. These donations are used to sponsor a military child in need.
Call us and discuss volunteering. We are currently looking for interns to assist us in the office
Text LPE to 501501 to make a $10 tax deductible digital donation right on your phone.
A baby asleep next to a Little Patriot Bear. Courtesy of LPE
Anything else you’d like us to know?
We are celebrating our 10th year serving our wonderful military families, with a special focus on the children left behind.
I find it hard to put into words the gratification I have received serving these families and children of our U.S. military over the past 10 years. Every time I see a smile on their faces or receive a thank-you note from one of these children, it warms my heart and makes all of this worth doing. I firmly believe that service refines us, purifies, and brings out the best in us. I encourage everyone to become involved in the service of others.