Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

SWAMPSCOTT SAYS ‘THANK YOU’ TO ITS MILITARY FAMILIES

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Hero Meals SwampscottNovember 2020/SWAMPSCOTT — The Military Friends Foundation distributed dozens of $100 Hero Meal grocery gift cards to military families and veterans at an event Tuesday as a way of saying thanks to those who have served the United States both at home and abroad. 

“We’re excited to be able to recognize those who have served and their families, especially during the COVID pandemic,” said Sarah Sweeney, Executive Director of the Military Friends Foundation. “These people have a duty to our nation. Giving thanks to them this Thanksgiving is simply a way that we can recognize their service.”

One hundred military families registered to receive Hero Meals from the Military Friends Foundation office at 212 Humphrey Street from noon to 7 p.m.

The gift card, along with pie and homemade thank you cards from the Swampscott Stanley School and Ocean Bay Girl Scouts were placed in the veterans’ cars in a COVID-conscious, contactless delivery.

In total, 250 gift cards will be given out as part of the program — 100 were distributed directly, while 50 additional gift cards will be mailed to veterans on the North Shore, and 100 gift cards will be mailed to families of the fallen, for a total gift of $25,000. 

Sweeney emphasized the sacrifices that many National Guard soldiers have made on the homefront in the COVID-19 response.  More than 50,000 National Guard soldiers have been activated nationwide.

Sarah Sweeney’s husband, Mike, the Swampscott Veterans agent, was called up for National Guard service in March, where he worked to distribute personal protective equipment from a warehouse in Marlborough. For the duration of his 90-day service, he was unable to see his family.

“It’s just tough on the family,” said Mike Sweeney. “It’s been a tough year for the families of National Guard soldiers that have been called up for duty.”

2019 Military Family Advisory study found that, pre-COVID, 15.3 percent of U.S. military families struggled to feed themselves and 12.7 percent of those families are “food insecure,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Military families have been impacted significantly by COVID. Military spouses now have an 18 percent unemployment rate, which is higher certainly than the national average,” said Sarah Sweeney.

Established after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Military Friends Foundation has provided millions of dollars in direct aid to help military families and families of the fallen. The organization offers a variety of grant programs and community empowerment events in support of families who have faced hardships related to military service. 

The Military Friends Foundation also organized the commonwealth’s COVID-19 relief fund, which provided more than $100,000 in food assistance to military personnel and their families.

In addition to the Hero Meals giveaway, the Military Friends Foundation will be providing another $30,000 to military families at Hanscom Air Force Base, Gold Star Families and local veterans.

Both Sweeneys were appreciative of the town of Swampscott’s support for the giveaway and for veterans in general.

“The town of Swampscott has been great with this,” said Mike Sweeney. “I can’t thank them enough for all their support. Whatever they needed to do to make it work, they did.”

Guthrie Scrimgeour can be reached at gscrimgeour@itemlive.com

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