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American Legion Auxiliary
Department of Illinois

Children and Youth

Rebecca "Sue" Johnson

Operation –Military Children are Heroes too and need the Bear Necessities of hugs!

What are your plans? In the United States, we have millions of military kids whose parents serve in one branch of the military. It is unfortunate that while we are not engaged in any fighting, we have many of our service personnel strategically placed around the world under top secret. While the parents are gone, the children are displaying a feeling of frustration, anxiety, anger, confusion and sadness not knowing when their parent will return.

April 15th is National Purple Up! Day for Military Kids. Everyone needs to wear purple and encourage others to show their support too.

Kids of Deployed are Heroes 2 (KDH2) is an initiative honoring military children who may be experiencing a separation from one or both parents, whether deployed to a war zone, having a short tour or on an extended temporary duty assignment. These young people born into the Military or Veteran community are literally our heroes. Here are some ideas to support the children:
Get involved with schools that are close to a military base or reserve.
Set up a breakfast or dinner at the school or post.
Make a stars wall.
Provide tutoring.
Make buttons for the parents and grandparents to wear of their hero children and grandchildren.
Invite service member guest speakers with different types of jobs to share about their experiences.
Give them community projects to do and reward them through a ceremony to boost confidence.
Have the children show the places they have traveled and memories they have made.
Send care packages that are appropriate and fun for them.

March 15th is also the day the Children and Youth Scholarship is due to the Unit. Applicant must be working towards a degree in Education with emphasis on the subject required for teaching mentally or physically challenged children. Applicants must be a Sophomore or Junior in college, with a class rank in upper half of the class. Units must have contributed to the Education Scholarship fund by March 15th in order to submit applications.

We need more Youth Heroes/Good Deed Award submissions. Keep looking.

Special Olympics
Children and Youth Chairman Sue Johnson

We need to have fundraisers just like we do for the other pillars. I have been lucky for many years finding food industries to team up with the American Legion Family for donations we needed. With inflation, the fight for the food industry to survive and the retirement of my contacts, these have added to the challenge. Last year we were put into difficult times and needed to provide more food.
The Winter Olympics were different. A mistake came from Special Olympics. A huge amount of athletes were not in school when the entry deadline came, so a huge amount of down hill skiers could not participate. I went through product like no tomorrow and did not have enough bottled water. The stores in Galena were hit hard and we could not get a lot. Close to the end, we had no product left for them to take. I had over 300 athletes, not including coaches and parents. The numbers for snowshoe athletes are projected to go up. We will have a lot more down hill skiers next year.

Summer Olympics will be held June 9th and 10th in Bloomington/Normal. We have 5 to 6 tents and will need:

big coolers for popsicles in each tent



many little teddy bears to hand out to the athletes by our riders


people to help prepare for the event

After the March meeting, I will put a list of items we need on the Department website: Remember to reserve your hotel room soon.

I am also looking for help from the fourth and fifth Divisions for a tennis event on August 19th for 200 athletes.

If you need more information, call me at 815-222-3983.

Operation –Military Children are Heroes too and need the Bear Necessities of hugs!

1. Operation Buddy- I was hoping to have the paperback book of Buddy the Soldier Bear Operation Hugs from home! Found under positive The book will not arrive until Tues. Other suggested books are: When you are away. H is for Honor A Military Family. A great activity book that you could introduce to your community schools anytime especial in April during Children and Youth month is I’m a proud military kid item #KCB-517. The book points out special circumstances military kids deal with and how they could be exciting challenges and builds self-esteem and morale of children. The prices vary the more you by the less you pay. Phone number 877-258-1225.

2. Operation project Sacks it was a National program that was given by a grant from the Children Welfare foundation. It was something that we did at convention. Volunteer members helped to stuff the bags with a lot of items. Then I delivered to the Renaissance homeless veteran shelters for Woman and men who have families. I would like for you to continue the growth of this project sack and delivery them to places in your community that children need this extra help.

3. Operation gifting- for Children with special needs in-group homes under the age of 18. Please ladies make sure you give this to your district C&Y chair. I had a few contact me that they never received the information. The first form is due Oct 21st, Form # 3 December 28th, Form #2 and thank you January 13th to me. In October if you need the money from Dept. ahead of time because your district and units may not have the funds we need the total amount from what institutes with a message to me so I can quickly get it to dept. so they can help you. Again district chair please pass on to your units so if they have these homes we can give the children with special needs a $ 10.00 Christmas gift.

4. Operation Special Olympics. Winter Games Jan31, Feb.1 and 2nd in Galena Chestnut Mountain, and Eagle ridge resort. The Legion family supplies all the food. Summer game Normal Bloomington at ISU Horton Field house for football. June 9th and 10th . Tennis Games Evergreen Racquet Club, Aug.. 20th. We also provide all the food and drinks here too.

5. Operation ALF dog –the American Legion Family. Wisconsin sons went back and forth on how they wanted to handle taking orders for Legion families from other states. It is expressed heavily not to put these in raffles or not to sell them in any way, or our state will loose the privilege to give out to the children that need a little companion during crisis. That is what happened to the Josh dog.

6. Operation National Family week.The week of Thanksgiving is National Family week for the Military Families. Make plans to invite and initiate some type of participation in activities that promote family strength and integrity. Don’t forget at Christmas we have our Christmas parties for children 11 and other, but we have teens that are still kids try to plan a separate event for them that is close to their age.

7. Operation Children and Welfare Foundation. Thanks for all that sent in monies for Children and Welfare Foundation as we start over again. If you like to put in for a grant put it together and submit before next July 15th the application. Awards for candidates for June 1st –May 31st

8. Operation Halloween. Make Halloween fun and safe. Trunk or treat, or parties in you unit, which ever your community can draw the most families.

9. Operation Good deed awards and Youth Hero awards for outstanding children in our state. The look in their eyes as they receive their certificates from National. Reach out to your Legion Family. They see something they give the information to the Auxiliary a simple form is filled out. It is then sent to Department and from there to National who makes out the certificate and sends it back so your unit can present it.

10. Operation Youth caregiver certificate is also being given out for those children helping with parents, grand parents, or other elderly or people with medicals not capable of doing things for themselves.

11. Operation Color. We have three coloring books: Halloween Safety, Poppies, and America the beautiful that you can download off National.

12. Operation Heroes. We also have children are Heroes 2 and how they deal with moving, making new friends and all of the events and activities and birthdays that are missed out when 1 or more parents are away. You can also get pillow cases made why yellow ribbon happens and parents are deployed please get a hold of me with names and contacts so we can get pictures to put on pillow case. Text me if you can 815-222-3983. You can also order the button with the child on it, or parent(s) deployed or the Veteran in your family.

13. The last is my operation rewards and they are very different this year.

As new things come up I will keep you informed. I’m again excited about being your Children and Youth chair person. If you would like to talk about ideas or share ideas don’t wait to the end send me pictures and blogs of what you’re doing and how did it go. Please make sure the information gets to the units in your division and districts. They are the ones who do the work and make this program a success. Remember the Hug is the Bear Necessities of life. 

Resources from National

Log into the National website to access these items
  • Youth Hero / Good Deed Award
  • Military Child's Table Setting Ceremony
  • Youth Hero Award News Release Template

Department Resources