News

AFAF Group Visits Key Combat Training Sites at Marine Base

A group of more than 30 key AFAF supporters visited the Marine Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms for a tour of combat training sites and activities. Viewing the combat training made the group realize why America’s military are the most well trained and prepared in the world.

VIP Base Tour

While on the base, the group was transported by an official Marine bus. Some of the highlights included observing a live fire training activity, tank and Humvee simulators, the practice firing range and lunch at a Marine mess hall.

VIP Base Tour

After a long day visiting base sites the group was taken to the new MCCS Exchange where they were able to purchase souvenirs as a reminder of their spectacular day at the base.

AFAF President Walt VanBenthuysen commented the group was honored to have the opportunity to see the combat training activities.

 

AFAF Helps Expand Rec Center

School of Infantry Recreation Center Provides for Marine Students

The Armed Services YMCA Recreation Center at the School of Infantry originally opened in 1977.  For the past 35 years it has provided a rest and relaxing sanctuary for the many Marine students who have attended the school following their recruit training in San Diego.  It provides Marine students the ability to de-stress, unwind, and relax from their arduous and intensive training, and reconnect with family and friends.

 Camp Pendelton YMCA Rec Center

The school is in a remote area of Camp Pendleton, and the recreation center is the only recreation facility that offers the Marine students a place to unwind on weekends following their rigorous weekly training.

Camp Pendelton YMCA Rec Center

This is a free program that fulfills the mission offering Marine students a venue to relax, recharge their batteries, play pool table and electronic games, and provide the ability to connect with their families and friends using the Internet. 

Camp Pendelton YMCA Rec Center

The branch is excited that we will be expanding the capability with a second building almost doubling the ability to provide the students a place to rest and relax.

 

AFAF Helps ASYMCA Camp Pendleton continue the Concrete Beach Program

School of Infantry weekly cookout for graduating Marine Students

The ASYMCA at Camp Pendleton enhances the lives of military members and their families in spirit, mind and body through programs relevant to unique challenges of military life. One of these programs is held at the School of Infantry (SOI) and has been going strong for over 13 years. The fun one hour event is held on Friday’s and includes, two hot dogs, hot chili, chips and soda.

Concrete Beach Program

ASYMCA staff and local volunteers come together to show their appreciation to the Marine Students. The volunteers, many of whom are retired military or retired military spouses enjoy dedicating their time to cook and serve lunch to the Marines. This unique, one of kind program increases both the students and instructors morale, including time to unwind, listen to music and enjoy a hot meal away from their daily training.

Concrete Beach Program

In 2016, the branch served over 9,724 Marines during 37 Concrete Beach cookouts. The highlight of the event is the basketball shot from half-court, which is always fun to watch as the Marines spirit of camaraderie and competition shines. This program is in place to help alleviate the service member’s stressors and challenges in their daily SOI training.

In 2017, the ASYMCA at Camp Pendleton, volunteers, rotary groups and corporations expect to serve over 10,000 Marines lunch. We are proud to offer the Concrete Beach Program to those who serve our country.

 

Armed Services YMCA Summer Fun

AFAF Comes to the Rescue During the "Dog Days of Summer".

During the average temperature of 113 degree weather that included rain and humidity here aboard the base and in surrounding communities during the month of July, military families did not venture to far away from their homes and watching the TV, playing video games, or just lazing around.

American Friends of the Armed Forces (AFAF) came to the rescue during the “dog days of summer” and provided funding for 34 children, 34 mothers, 13 siblings, and 14 visiting fathers and grandparents through the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) Summer Program.

ASYMCA Summer Fun

The 2 years old – 8 years old children, their moms, siblings, fathers, and grandparents were able to enjoy Sprinkler Day, Picnic in the Park, Arts and Crafts Days and much more. 

A father, a Marine on lunch, reported it was amazing seeing his son and wife interacting with other families and enjoying a few hours away from home. “My wife and son are much happier now that they are in this program.”

ASYMCA Summer Fun

One mother stated she had just moved to the base, her husband immediately deployed and her daughter was shy and cried because she had no friends. The Summer Program allowed this family to socialize and make friends, learn new fun activities, and by the end of the program the daughter came out of her shell and both mother and daughter made new friends.

All enjoyed the ASYMCA Summer Fun Program and want to send a special
“THANK YOU to American Friends of Our Armed Forces!”

 

Single Marine Program

Key Partnership with AFAF Vital to Programs
by Alisson Nichols, MCCS

American Friends of our Armed Forces (AFAF) provides the single Marines aboard the 29 Palms Marine Corps base with morale boosters in the form of prizes, care packages and entertainment. 

Thanks to years of funding from AFAF, the Single Marine Program (SMP) has been able to provide Marines who are deployed with comforts from home by creating care packages and shipping them overseas as part of the Desert Mail Call Program.  Providing these care packages increases morale and improves total force readiness. 

SMP-Mail Call

In addition to assisting our deployed service members, AFAF provides recreational entertainment by funding pizza and bowling nights, barracks bashes and tournaments. 

The direct correlation between recreation, physical fitness and mission readiness is apparent in the activities that SMP hosts with the assistance of AFAF.  SMP’s primary goal is to enhance the quality of life of the Marines stationed aboard the installation. 

SMP-Barracks Bash

Food, games and prizes funded by AFAF enhance the atmosphere, which in turn increases their living environment and personal readiness.  During the holiday season, SMP also creates gift packages to hand out to Marines who are working on the holidays.  Supplying these packages, filled with gift cards, homemade cookies, handmade cards and other comforts, shows our single Marines how appreciative we are that they took time away from their families to afford us with freedom. 

Without assistance from AFAF, SMP would simply not be able to continue these programs. We are forever grateful for their contributions.

 

Operation Showers of Appreciation

The Few. The Proud. The Expecting.

Well, not so few. Since Kimberly Felshaw founded the not for profit charity, Operation Showers of Appreciation has assisted over 5000 military families by showering them with gifts for their newborn babies. Large scale baby showers are held in multiple states across the country.

Operation Showers of Appreciation

American Friends of our Armed Forces began funding showers three years ago as a unique and valuable way to help our troops and their families.  AFAF is proud to be a partner with Kim and the entire OSOA team.

Congratulations on your great work.

Major Base Event

Thousands Visit AFAF Exhibit at Marine Base

A sunny May Day, amazing exhibits, children’s rides and great food combined to attract more than 6,000 military families to the 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center “We Salute You Celebration.

We Salute You

Fred Nothdurft, a former AFAF Director, led a volunteer team that secured over 1000 donated gifts for distribution to military families attending the celebration of our American Heroes.

Special thanks also goes out to World of Women, that donated 500 Teddy Bears to be distributed to children at the base.

We Salute You

AFAF Director Jeanette Kleist commented that over 500 Teddy Bears, 200 Hot Wheels Cars and hundreds of gifts for parents were distributed to the military families in a three hour period. Also provided by the AFAF team were more than 1000 ice cream treats and hundreds of candy bars.

Fred and his team are already working on securing gifts for the 2018 We Salute You Celebration. Contact AFAF if you would like to be a part of the 2018 celebration.

World of Women Provides Over 500 Teddy Bears to Base Children

World Of Women (WOW) - Sun City Palm Desert held its annual "Fashion Trends" Teddy Bear Fashion Show and Luncheon at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa on March 23, 2017.

We Salute You

American Friends of our Armed Forces (AFAF) was again the recipient of the bears that each guest brought to this event. Over 500 bears were collected and given to the children at the "We Salute You" family event at 29 Palms. The children were so excited to choose their special bear.

We Salute You

Wounded Warrior Optimistic
After IED Blast

Semper Fi Fund & AFAF Provide Assistance

In March 2011, Gunnery Sergeant Brian Meyer was deployed as a Staff Sergeant when he was injured by an IED blast that resulted in the complete amputation of his right hand and leg, and amputation of the thumb and index finger on his left hand. During Brian’s recovery, Brian’s family not only faced emotional strain, but financial strain as well. Beyond the staggering costs of hospitalization and treatment are related expenses, which pile up quickly: plane fare, other travel expenses, adaptive housing or transportation, specialized equipment, and more. The list goes on, and so do the bills, often stretching a family's budget to the breaking point. That's where the Semper Fi Fund comes in.

Gunnery Sergeant Brian Meyer

Since its inception in 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has assisted over 8,000 service members with over 44,000 grants, totaling more than $64 million in assistance.
The Semper Fi Fund provides relief of financial needs that arise during hospitalization and recovery within 24-72 hours of request, as well as provides continuous assistance for those service members with perpetuating needs.

Our organization offers support in a variety of ways: Service Member and Family Support, Specialized & Adaptive Equipment, Adaptive Housing, Adaptive Transportation, Education and Career Transition Assistance, Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury Support, Team Semper Fi, and more. Each area of support has a specific focus for directing assistance, with the overall goal of providing quality of life solutions to our brave injured service men and women.

The Semper Fi Fund's streamlined structure keeps overhead very low – at 5% – because we realize that every dollar saved can be put to better use elsewhere. The American Institute of Philanthropy has given us an "A+" rating and Charity Navigator has given us their highest rating of "Four Stars."

Semper Fi Fund

The basic ideal that drives our efforts is simple: as much as our heroes have sacrificed, they deserve the best care and support available in their hour of need. This is why the Semper Fi Fund gladly relieved Gunnery Sergeant Brian Meyer’s family of supplementary financial burdens by offering Family Support grants to ensure that Brian’s family could be by his hospital beside and focuses entirely on Brian’s care.

Despite the severity of his injuries, Brian is amazingly positive and refuses to let his injuries keep him from living a rich and fulfilling life. Brian and his wife, Jesseca, are residents of Oceanside, CA. They do not have children, but they do have a Great Dane, Veritas, that means the world to them. When Brian decided that he would greatly benefit from the use of a service dog, he knew that he wanted Veritas to be that dog. The Semper Fi Fund assisted Brian with the expense of training Veritas in pursuit of our goal to ensure Brian with the best quality of life possible.

The Semper Fi Fund continues to help heroes like Brian thanks to the support of American Friends of Our Armed Forces and other loyal donors, both individuals and corporations, who have donated to our mission, or made efforts to raise awareness through events and fundraisers. We are forever grateful to our supporters who share in our critical mission of "serving those who preserve our freedom."

For more information please visit the Semper Fi Fund website.

 

Youth Sports a Winning Program

Over 2000 Children & Youth Currently Participate in the MAGCC Program
by Joe Rosselli, MCCS Youth Sports Recreation Manager

When AFAF came on board as a sponsor for MCAGCC Youth Sports several years back, we served 1,100 youth; as of 2012 we now serve over 2,800 youth ages 3 to 17.

Youth Sports

With Support from AFAF we have expanded our programs to include junior golf, family bowling events, distance running and more. In fact, some of our athletes have even competed at state and national levels.

In addition, AFAF’s involvement has lowered our registration fees allowing more military families to have their children participate in the world of youth sports.

Youth Sports

As we look forward to the future we hope that MCAGCC Youth Sports and AFAF continue to build a lasting relationship.

 

AFAF Teams Up with ASYMCA

AFAF SUPPORTS ASYMCA FOR SUMMER CAMP

Armed Services YMCA kicked off its Summer Camp at Camp Oakes in Big Bear, California by welcoming 103 children to a seven day, six night camp. Also attending were a Marine Corpsman, 16 chaperones (including active duty Marines) and a staff member. The summer camp was made possible by a grant from American Friends of our Armed Forces.

Campers were met at the Big Bear Camp Site for a 12:00pm check-in time on Sunday, August 18th and matched up with their chaperone.  Upon check in each camper was presented with their supplies for the week. After that, the chaperones took the children to get them settled in to their cabins.

The activities the children were able to enjoy included; horseback riding, canoeing, archery, swimming, volleyball, ping pong, teambuilding exercises, a rifle range, and a climbing wall. They were also able to do an Indian Lore program in which they learned about Native American housing, searched for artifacts, and did some face painting.

ASYMCA Summer Camp

Along with the programs, campers enjoyed several theme nights, including crazy colors, cowboy western, and superhero night. Also a part of evening programs were pool parties, campfire for S’mores, and a masquerade ball on the last night. The ball was a huge success for all the kids. They talked about the dances they would do, and even made masks to wear during the night.

While at Camp Oakes, an adult special needs group came by to enjoy a few days. The children, without being asked, invited many individuals from this group to play kickball with them. This act of kindness on the part of the children was incredibly touching to see. To witness the joy on the faces of those who got to participate instead of just watch was truly amazing. The children made such a positive influence on this group, that they wrote the kids thank you notes, sang to them at dinner, and even cried the day they had to say good-bye.

This interaction with the special needs group truly underlined some of the goals set by camp organizers the children. The children learned very valuable lessons about responsibility, respect, and team building. All of the children had life changing moments that were amazing to everyone.

ASYMCA Executive Director Anita Neu-Fultz commented that the support of AFAF made it possible for many military children to enjoy camp for the first time.