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Minnesota National Guard
Operation Helping Hands for Hometown Heroes

Minnesota National Guard MINNEAPOLIS, Minn- A Minneapolis-based company pitched in to provide a brighter Christmas for 94 military families throughout Minnesota this year Volunteers from US Bank partnered with the Minnesota National Guard's Family Assistance Centers to identify military families in need during the holiday season

"US Bank values Minnesota Service members and the sacrifices they make each and every day," said Melinda Thein, US Bank Business Line Risk Analyst To recognize those sacrifices, US Bank came up with a project called "Operation Helping Hands for Hometown Heroes" which granted Christmas wishes for military families this season This is one of many examples of how Minnesota companies feel compelled to support the troops

US Bank is one of 34 companies in Minnesota to be recognized as Yellow Ribbon Companies, which signifies their commitment to hiring and supporting military members, veterans and their families

Thein explained, "It takes many hands and a lot of organization to make something like this come together" US Bank teams and individuals identified themselves as wanting to participate in this project With a simple phone call, they were connected with a program coordinator at a local Military Family Assistance Center, or FAC FACs are part of the Minnesota National Guard's Yellow Ribbon Readiness Services and played a critical role in identifying military families on the companies behalf

"We asked the FAC to identify Minnesota military families who could use a few merry tidings and good cheer this holiday season," Thein relayed This connection allowed military members to remain anonymous yet still provided very specific details of the needs and wants of the family units such as the number of people within the family and their ages The families were asked to complete a "wish list" and that wish list was passed on to the teams

"We will do whatever we can to find families to adopt," said Christina Rost, Military Family Assistance Specialist adding that, "Melinda and US Bank made it possible for us to reach out to these families"

The efforts of many individuals and teams at US Bank started snowballing and gathering momentum In total 94 Minnesota military families were sponsored by 94 different teams The end state Thein describes as, "three rooms spilling over with presents, families filled with hope and gratitude coming to get their bundles, and outlier FAC representatives coming to pick up bundles for families from their region of Minnesota"

Vern Traux, the Rosemount FAC program coordinator expressed, "I think the biggest part is making sure everyone who has sacrificed to serve gets what they need at the holidays, even if it means traveling all over the state to distribute gifts and donation It's not charity; we just want to make sure everyone has a good holiday"

There are a few families and teams who asked to meet one another The meetings have been set with the help of the FAC US Bank teams have decorated their work areas in preparation to receive their families in person when the family chooses to come receive their bundle of gifts

Thein went on to describe that, "US Bank teams engaged in a selfless act with nothing to gain other than knowing that each team was helping someone, or a family, from our local military community The fact is that, though our US Bank teams are blessing military families in a profound way this holiday season, the teams are finding that they are being doubly blessed! This project has been a great team building and leadership opportunity for employees within the bank When good intentions drive an objective, nothing but good can come out of it, for both those receiving and for those giving"

During the holiday season local community organizations often rally around the spirit of giving driving the work load of the FACs into full throttle Mike Farren, the FAC Supervisor explains, "We are in a heightened state of operations during the holiday but if there is anyone who needs anything they can reach out us 24-7 no matter what time of year"

For the most current information on the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Campaign and to learn more go to wwwbtyrorg

December 19, 2013
by Staff Sgt Jennifer J Rechtfertig
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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