Traditionally seen in green, 4-H'ers from around the state will be sporting the color purple in an effort to show their support to Oklahoma military families.
April marks the nation's Month of the Military Child, and April 15 has been designated as Purple Up! For Military Kids day.
Pat McNally, director of the Oklahoma 4-H Operation: Military Kids (OMK), and Extension specialist in the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University, said this will be the second year in a row Oklahoma 4-H'ers have participated in Purple Up! For Military Kids day. OMK, which was initiated in 2005, is part of the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program, which is part of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
"OMK is joining forces with all other Operation: Military Kids programs across the country to raise awareness and show support for these children and their families and let them know how much we appreciate the sacrifices they make when their family members are deployed," McNally said. "Through this effort we encourage groups, organizations and individuals all across Oklahoma to wear purple as a visible way to support and thank military families. A sea of purple in every Oklahoma community would provide a wonderful visual for the thousands of military families."
Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military and combines Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red and Navy blue.
McNally said last year, 4-H Ambassadors and various 4-H clubs around the state worked with local businesses and offered discounts at stores and restaurants. The money raised from those discounts was given to the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation to provide scholarships for military youth to attend Kids Kamp. The camp is located at Camp Gruber near Braggs, Okla., and will take place June 23-29.
"Sometimes these children may feel like they're alone and no one understands what they are going through. We're hoping that various organizations, including 4-H clubs, will host events in their communities that focus on military youth," she said. "We'd like for communities that participate to send us photos to post on the Oklahoma 4-H OMK website and the Oklahoma Operation: Military Kids Facebook page."
Please email photos of your Purple UP! For Military Kids day activities to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We're really excited about this opportunity to show support to our military families. Citizenship has long been a part of the Oklahoma 4-H program and this is yet another opportunity for our club members to get involved and help the military families in their communities," McNally said.
Month of the Military Child began in 1986 when then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger recognized the sacrifices of military personnel and the need to offer greater support to military families.
"There was a time when military families were typically assigned to a post or base and had access to social and other services," McNally said. "Today, however, many military families are living in a community far away from a military post or base. It's vital that we continue to show them support, and participating in Purple Up! For Military Kids day is just one way Oklahoma 4-H'ers are doing their part."
OMK is a partnership with Oklahoma 4-H, Army Child, Youth School Services, National 4-H Headquarters/U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension.