Saturday, May 18, 2013

UNH Cooperative Extension’s Military Program Establishes Day to Wear Purple

Monday, April 15 marks the day for folks all around the state of N.H., and the entire country, to wear purple. The occasion, dubbed Purple Up! For Military Kids, is in its third year. UNH Cooperative Extension’s Military Youth and Family Program is sponsoring the event.

The color purple symbolizes all branches of the U.S. armed forces. Purple is the combination of Army green; Marine red; and Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force blue. According to the program, Purple Up! acts as a visible way to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices. 

“I think [Purple Up!] raises awareness that we have over 5,400 military kids living in N.H., and most community members are surprised to learn that, because we do not have any military bases,” said Charlotte Cross, program director of N.H. Operation: Military Kids. 

UNH Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program partners with all branches of the military, schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Red Cross, the American Legion, and the spiritual community to form the outreach effort called Operation: Military Kids (OMK). 

N.H. OMK served over 5,000 youth in all ten counties of the state through camps and other programs conducted throughout the past year. OMK functions in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

According to Cross, Purple Up! is a very easy and tangible way for communities to visibly show their support for military kids. “It’s a program that’s easy to implement,” Cross said.

When started only in 2011 as a state initiative to honor military youth during April, Purple Up! went viral in just one year, spreading across the entire country. 48 states and two U.S. territories now participate in Purple Up!

Cross anticipates 100 percent of U.S. States to participate in Purple Up! for 2013. “The Department of the Army put a notice out worldwide about Purple Up! For Military Kids, and it has already been placed in the Air Force Newsletter for 2013,” Cross said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan will be reading and signing a proclamation on April 15 at the State House in Concord to publicly recognize the event. “We’ve requested our federal congressional delegates to wear purple,” Cross said.

The Whittemore Center will also be bathed in purple lights at night and a banner will be hung on the Whitt’s outside wall in honor of the occasion. Additionally, UNH Dining Service staff will wear purple to raise awareness.

“[Purple Up!] is a spring board to create awareness in the community and to begin the process of education about the issues that military kids and families face,” Cross said.

Conner Jackson, a community leadership major, has been an OMK camp counselor for four years. He is organizing a fundraiser for OMK on April 26 at UNH’s Lower Bremner Field to support programs set up for military kids in N.H. “There will be a flag football tournament and a barbecue where all raised funds will benefit OMK,” Jackson said.

“We’re excited about the program this year,” Cross said. “We’re encouraging groups to participate again, and we’ve provided incentives for some youth groups to reach out to military kids and invite them to get involved in their program locally.”

Purple Up! serves as a day where the community can come out, recognize [military] kids and their families, and show their support,” Jackson said.

Published in The New Hampshire.

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