Throughout the month of May, Fat Brain Toys is donating a toy to one of four charities every time a customer purchases an item from our list of over 2,000 qualified toys. It’s great! But, we also understand that it can sometimes be hard to tell for sure just how much good a donation is going to do. So, to shed some light on where these toys are going, we decided to get the answers right from the source. The Military Children’s Charity is one of the hundreds of community partners in the network of our national charity partner Delivering Good, Inc. (formerly K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers). Check out this Q & A with Isaiah Navarrow, Founder of the Military Children’s Charity, to learn more about his organization and what this donation is going to do for its cause.
What are the goals of your organization?
The primary goals of my organization are two-fold. First, to acknowledge and recognize American military children for the repeated sacrifices that they must make in order for their parent(s) to serve at freedom’s door. With a simple gift, M.C.C. says thank you to our military children which reminds them that the American public cares. Second, to increase awareness to the challenges that military children may experience, which includes:
1. Frequent relocations;
2. Prolonged separation(s) from one (or both) parent(s); and
3. They may experience anxiety while their parent(s) serve in a deployed and/ or forward combat situation.
M.C.C. is unique in that we work in direct support to the U.S. Armed Forces. The gifts that M.C.C. collects are given to the different military family readiness program officers, who then in turn distribute the gifts to their own military families. Also, M.C.C. provide gifts to nearly a dozen bereaved children that have lost a parent in service to our nation.
How does your organization go about achieving its goals?
When I first envisioned my non-profit, I thought about the times of year which are important in the life of any child. Based upon this, I created a three-season approach to gifting to our military children. M.C.C. collects and distributes to the military families toys and gifts during the holiday season, Easter Baskets in the spring, and backpacks with school supplies in the fall.
Additionally, my charity annually hosts a base-wide baby shower at the Joint Forces Training Base (Los Alamitos), and we participate in countless smaller collection drives. For example, M.C.C. supports additional holidays upon request, summer activities, special military ceremonies, and other requests from the U.S. military, as our donations allow.
Also, M.C.C. has actually hosted many special events for the military families, such as Annual Holiday Family Day Events, and summer barbecues. Whenever possible, we also attend military family events hosted by the different commands and military installations that M.C.C. serves.
All of this is possible based on the incredible generosity of Americans who step forward to donate to our military children. In fact, I am proud to state that M.C.C., in our eighth year now, has remained an all-volunteer organization. It is due to the passion of M.C.C.’s volunteers and donors that give so selflessly of their time, talent, and treasure that my charity has been a success.
Who does your organization strive to help the most?
Our focus is primarily on the military children, however, as a result of its efforts, M.C.C. ends up increasing the morale of the entire family unit, especially at the holidays. Regardless of the branch of the U.S. Armed Forces or the parent’s rank, all military children serve, and we seek to recognize each one of them. The military children that our organization acknowledges range in age from soon-to-be-born babies through eighteen year olds.
Military children can be categorized as follows:
1. Children Attached to a Military Installation (Military Bases): These are military children attached to a U.S. military installation who may attend public or private school or a Department of Defense school.
2. Children in Our Communities (Not-Attached to a Military Installation): These are children not attached to a U.S. military installation and living within the community, often attending public or private schools. For example, their parent(s) are on recruiting duty, their parents are divorced, their parent(s) serves in a special capacity, etc.
3. Bereaved Children: The Richard K. Johnston Memorial Bereavement Program provides gifts directly to children whose parent has been killed in U.S. military service. During the past 7 years, M.C.C. has served over a dozen children with gifts of appreciation year round to acknowledge their sacrifice.
What kind of impact does your organization have on your community?
I truly believe that my organization has an impact on the lives of the military families that we serve. It has been my honor to be able to work closely in support of our nation’s finest the past seven years. Having been a military child myself, a simple gesture, such as a gift, speaks volumes to our military families that Americans stand with them. I wish that my fellow Americans could see firsthand all of the things that I have the past seven years. When you spend a lot of time upon the military bases and work closely with the families, you truly get a sense of how remarkable they are, especially the children.
Since its founding in 2010, M.C.C. has distributed over 90,000 new gifts to our military families! Specifically, over 1,400 Easter Baskets, 850 Backpacks with school supplies, over 36,000 new toys and gifts, over 10,000 new books, and over 20,000 new baby items.
Lastly, M.C.C. has received countless awards and recognitions from the U.S. military for our support to their efforts.
In what way will the Fat Brain Gives event help your organization achieve its goals?
The reality is that each year M.C.C. is receiving even less support for our American military children. Although the U.S. military’s operational tempo is not in the forefront of the public eye, it does exist. As volunteers of M.C.C., we witness firsthand how frequently our military members must deploy. As donations have continued to decrease year on year, M.C.C. struggles to fulfill providing gifts to all of the military children we serve, especially during the holidays.
By partnering with Delivering Good and Fat Brain toys for this special fundraising event, M.C.C. will benefit immensely in receiving additional gifts for distribution to our military children, but not just any toys, specifically quality toys that enrich the child’s mind through play.
How do you hope the toys from Fat Brain will impact the lives of the children you’ll be helping?
Education has always been extremely important to me, and I am a tremendous advocate for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning. During high school, I worked very hard on my studies, in addition to founding Military Children’s Charity. As a result, I held over a 4.0 GPA all four years of high school and graduated from my Catholic school with the highest honors. This allowed me to move forward in pursuing my dream to become a rocket scientist. I am nearing graduation from college with two Bachelor’s degrees, in both Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. In the fall of 2017 I will start in a Master’s of Aerospace Engineering program. My mother always sought to provide me with toys and games that would stimulate my learning, be challenging enough, and allowed me to use my hands to build. My hope is that the toys provided by Fat Brain will inspire Military Children in the same way my childhood toys inspired me.
How can play and the toys from Fat Brain help children cope with the stress of having lost a parent in the military?
In the past, Military Children’s Charity has provided teddy bears and blankets to several children in advance of their parent’s military funeral. M.C.C. has even provided these same comforting items to older children and teens. In instances with younger children, M.C.C. has provided new toys to the surviving spouse to give to the child as a distraction. The reality in these tragic situations is that the spouse is grieving and still needs to be a parent at the same time. These bereaved parents have reported to M.C.C. that the toys were truly appreciated at that stressful moment in time.
M.C.C. has nearly a dozen children in our bereavement program that receive gifts year round, at the holidays in December, an Easter Basket, a backpack filled with school supplies, and on their birthday. For example, one of our first bereaved children lost his parent the month that M.C.C. began, and he was nine years old at the time. His father was serving his fourth deployment when he was killed in Afghanistan. This young man has been receiving gifts from M.C.C. since, and will be graduating high school this spring. M.C.C., despite his tragic loss, has been able to provide this young man with toys and gifts to uplift his morale, and seven years later still serve as a gentle reminder that Americans remember his sacrifice.
Military Children’s Charity, Inc. exists to enrich the lives of American Service member’s children.