Last year, AFFF donated $31,542 for the construction for the new memorial garden and children’s playground, as well as $39,951 to cover the renovation of Camp Blanding’s Family Assistance Center, which is used to provide family readiness support and child and youth programming for the Florida National Guard.

The memorial garden will serve as a place that honors fallen service members and offers an on-base sanctuary for Gold Star families to come together to support one another. The space includes a garden area with benches, flowers, garden boxes, trees and more, as well as a play area for children.

The Family Assistance Center at Camp Blanding is located on the second story of a WWII-era building that required several significant upgrades. New upgrades to the center included the installation of new energy efficient windows, refinishing and replacement of hardwood flooring, a complete renovation of its bathroom facilities and the purchase of a new refrigerator and chest freezer. In addition to the structural upgrades, the center has been outfitted with a new EZ Child ID System, which will help further insure the safety of children at the center, as well as equipment for programs that teach children empowerment and safety tips.

“Together with Florida Survivor Outreach Services, we were able to identify the biggest needs for military families at Camp Blanding. These two projects help honor the sacrifices made service members and their families and provide multi-purpose functional spaces for on-base families to enjoy year-round,” said John Wright, an AFFF board member. “We are so thankful for the support of SOS, Camp Blanding, our donors and local Taco Bell sponsors for helping make these projects a reality.”

The area where the memorial garden was constructed was previously an underutilized space for on-base families. The playground equipment formerly located at the site was worn from extended use and presented safety concerns due to rotting boards. Additionally, there was no seating available for families to enjoy the space.

AFFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides 100 percent of the funds raised back to projects to help military families.

To date, the Armed Forces Families Foundation has raised and given back more than $2 million to benefit military families. Recent projects include:

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· $61,794 for the construction of a new handicapped-accessible pavilion at Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch, a new outdoor recreation area at Lurie Park in Pinellas Park, Florida;
· $73,000 to expand the USO Center at the Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida;
· $13,171 for the expansion of the USO facility at Fort Campbell, Kentucky;
· $35,000 to construct a “leveled library” for over 700 pre-K through eighth grade students at Freedom Park Elementary School, located on Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, which will consist of more than 6,240 content-area books that will engage students at various skill levels;

To learn more about the Armed Forces Families Foundation or to help fund other projects that help military members and their families, please visit www.armedforcesfamilies.org.

About Armed Forces Families Foundation:
The Armed Forces Families Foundation, together with participating Taco Bell and IHOP restaurants, are proud supporters of America’s armed forces and their families. Since 2006, the Armed Forces Families Foundation has raised and given back more than $2 million to fund and develop infrastructure projects that help the families of our service men and women. One hundred percent of every dollar raised goes directly toward projects to help the families of those who protect our freedom. For more information, please visit ArmedForcesFamilies.org


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