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Ellsworth celebrates military kids

Shannon Cross, the daughter of Tech. Sgt. James Cross, a 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight line expeditor, creates a picture frame at the arts and crafts table, during the Back to School Roundup held at the Pride Hangar on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 18, 2019. April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child. It is set aside to honor the strength and sacrifices of military children across all branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

Shannon Cross, the daughter of Tech. Sgt. James Cross, a 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit flight line expediter, creates a picture frame at the arts and crafts table, during the Back to School Roundup held at the Pride Hangar on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 18, 2019. April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child. It is set aside to honor the strength and sacrifices of military children across all branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

Toddlers from room 138 dance to "Jingle Bells" at the McRaven Child Development Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2018. April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child. It is set aside to honor the strength and sacrifices of military children across all branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

Toddlers from room 138 dance to "Jingle Bells" at the McRaven Child Development Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 6, 2018. April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child. It is set aside to honor the strength and sacrifices of military children across all branches. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Since 1986, the Department of Defense has designated April as the Month of the Military Child (MOMC). Throughout the month, military communities celebrate by taking part in various events and activities to recognize the strengths and sacrifices of military children.

At Ellsworth Air Force Base, this year was no different. Despite the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the base’s youth programs managed to stay open.

Although attendance was much lower than usual, the youth programs still found ways to celebrate MOMC.

“This year we have done several activities in the [youth center] such as spirit week, rock painting, and ‘purpling up’ for military children,” said Malia St. Andre, the 28th Force Support Squadron Youth Program director. “We created a large poster that says MOMC and includes dandelions made from the children’s hand prints.”

The younger children at the McRaven Child Development Center participated in similar festivities.

Activities were planned for each day, [for the children] to have fun, dress crazy and make special crafts said Susan Ratkovsky, the 28th FSS Child Development Center director.

On April 17, the Ellsworth community was encouraged to wear purple for ‘Purple Up! For Military Kids day.’ The color purple represents all military branches and is worn to show support and appreciation for military children, their resiliency and their sacrifices.

“The children deserve to be recognized and celebrated as they are usually far away from extended family, move often and have to make new friends each time their families have to relocate,” said Ratkovsky. “[This month] celebrates the resiliency, bravery and relentlessness of children who have one or both parents serving in the military.”

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