Date: December 1, 2011
After former Fort Bragg paratroopers Andrew Ladner and Chris Lawson were deployed to New Orleans for the season finale of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the local veterans project, Operation: Coming Home, they and other veterans decided to continue serving their communities by creating the U.S. Veterans Corps. Based in Cary, the organization consists of veteran volunteers and other members of the community interested in helping families in need. During the past year, U.S. Veterans Corps members' children also pitched in to volunteer for numerous community service projects.
"A few years ago, our veterans were asking if they could bring their kids to some of our community service projects," Ladner says. "I said not only do we allow it, but we encourage it. We believe it is essential for our children not just to see us helping others, but for them to be engaged as well."
These young volunteers include (as shown in photo) Jack Perdue, Ian Ladner, Lorin Ladner, Erin Lawson, Jacob Lawson, Liam Frye, Max Frye, Emily Roberts, Eileen Roberts, Jayden Roberts, Jonathan Roberts, Sam Farnsworth, Abbey Farnsworth, Jake Pinkus, Kennedy Brogden and Kaleb Brogden.
In addition to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Operation Coming Home, the children have helped with projects involving the Hurricane Irene cleanup, Toys for Tots, Toys for Lil' Troops (for children of deployed U.S. Marine and Army service members) and a Guinness World Record food drive. Organization members and their children have also helped with a United Service Organizations lounge remodel and move, a USO show televised to the Middle East, the Combat Fitness Challenge (a fundraiser for the U.S. Marine Corps), organizing care packages for Special Operations teams, Kids on Guard (a National Guard camp for children of deployed parents), welcome home and deployment ceremonies, Wounded Warriors fundraisers and more.
"I like going to the projects with my friends and family," says Sam Farnsworth, one of the young volunteers. "It's always at a cool place with cool people!"
The U.S. Veterans Corps members and their children have been honored with numerous awards, including the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for Operation Coming Home and the Best Community Spirit in the Nation Award for that effort.
Learn more about how you and your children can get involved with the U.S. Veterans Corps at http://myusvc.com.