Hare starts organization to help military families in financial need

DOVER — “We support you, while you defend us” is a slogan that Councilman William Hare hopes resonates with active military personnel that might face hard times financially.

“You see a lot of programs out there for veterans, which are great, but there are very little programs out there for the needs of the active duty (personnel),” Mr. Hare said.

That void sparked an idea to create the Dover Military Support and Readiness Organization. It will be geared toward providing financial assistance to active military members.

“I’m a military veteran and I know what it’s been like to struggle at times,” Mr. Hare said. “I mean it’s not easy, so I just want to help out anyway that I can.”

The nonprofit organization will hold its first event at the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Admission is free.

Mr. Hare said it will give everyone an introduction to the organization.

“I’m excited,” he said. “We want people to come and support it. We’re going to have food and different auction items as well.

“I’m expecting to have a good time.”

Birth of an idea

The genesis for the nonprofit was born during the Christmas a few seasons ago.

Through an encounter while portraying Santa Claus, Dover councilman William Hare was inspired to establish an organization to help active duty military personnel. (Delaware State News file photo)

Through an encounter while portraying Santa Claus, Dover councilman William Hare was inspired to establish an organization to help active duty military personnel. (Delaware State News file photo)

Dressed as Santa Claus, Mr. Hare has been making the rounds at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover and making people smile since 1998.

He doesn’t stop there, though. He also makes stops at Dover Air Force Base as well. It was an encounter with a little girl about what she wanted for Christmas that made him realize a need to help active military members existed.

“She came and sat on my lap and I asked what she wanted for Christmas,” he recalled.

“She said she wanted a Barbie doll and as I looked up I saw her mother was shaking her head no as if she didn’t want me to go any further with asking what her daughter wanted.”

He found out later that her husband had been deployed, which put a financial burden on the family.

“The mother couldn’t keep her job because the father wasn’t home during the evenings and she didn’t have anyone to watch their kids, so she had to quit,” Mr. Hare said.

He said that’s when he knew something needed to be done.

“It hit me then that sometimes we take things for granted,” Mr. Hare said. “There are families in the military that may face financial hardships.

“I just knew that there was something that we can do to help out these families.”

Bettie Campbell, director of business at Dover Federal Credit Union, helped Mr. Hare put the organization together. She said it’s been great watching an idea be turned into reality.

“Mr. Hare approached me at a convention about the organization two years ago,” Ms. Campbell said. “I was all on board with it. I helped put together some of the brochures and help send letters and emails about the event.

“Our airmen serve us, so I just wanted to have a chance to give back and help them out anyway that I could,” she said.

It took a while to get some of the ground work done, but he had a great deal of help from everyone, he said.

“(U.S.) Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was a big help because it takes a while to get a 501(c)(3) form approved through the IRS,” Mr. Hare said, referring to the tax-exempt code for nonprofits.

“I filed all of the papers and paid all the fees and I waited six or seven months to see if I was approved.”

“We went over and had lunch with Sen. Carper and I explained our program to him and then a couple of days later I got a letter saying that I was approved,” Mr. Hare said.

“I’m not sure if that was a coincidence, but he was still very helpful through the process.”

Mr. Hare said Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, helped with the legal work.

“He was a big help,” Mr. Hare said. “He did all of the legal work for us to help get this off of the ground.

“Before you could file with state or federal government you need bylaws, letters of incorporation,” he said.

“That’s where he helped us because he did all that for us and made whatever changes that we needed.”

To get help

The organization will be vetted through the First Sergeants’ Council’s Good Shepherd Fund at Dover Air Force Base, which provides financial assistance to enlisted personnel at the base in times of need.

“There are a lot of different needs that may come up and this is another avenue that can add to what’s available for them,” Mr. Hare said.

Funding from the organization will come from fund raisers, sponsors or donations.

“We want everyone to be involved,” Ms. Campbell said. “There are a lot of airmen that need our help and this is a great opportunity to help them.”

Mr. Hare agreed.

“I’m really excited to see it kick off,” Mr. Hare said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the airmen and the people that defend us that we support.

“It wouldn’t even matter to me if I was mentioned. It’s about doing other things to help other people when needed.”

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