By: Sgt. Melissa N. Lessard, 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs
The 504th Military Intelligence Brigade recently raised 1,135 books in support of awareness about mental health and suicide. They books were donated to two Ronald McDonald charities and the town of Nolanville, Texas.
“If I were one of those children, I would feel inspired knowing that you are not alone and that there are people who care about what you are going through,” said Sgt. Joshua Kirk, Bravo Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Expeditionary MI Brigade. “Hopefully, in the future, we can visit the children and give them the books in person.”
Jasmine and Kirk, brother and sister, started raising awareness after their brother Daniel tragically passed away.
“Each year since his passing we did some awareness on mental health,” said Jasmine.
Daniel was a tutor for the Chicago public school district and was passionate about helping children and that it made sense to choose something to help children, she said. He was also a Ronald Mc. Donald kid growing up because of medical complications.
“He was a caring person,” said Kirk. “He was the type to give up his last, to make sure someone did not go without.”
Daniel tragically passed away in 2017 due to suicide which leads to the Kirk family’s passion and commitment to helping children. Kirk and Spc. Dayna Fyffe, the brigade Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative, went to the commander of his company asking if the unit could hold a book drive. They had the support of the entire brigade.
Fyffe said, “From the start I told them that this initiative was close to my heart and wanted to use the BOSS channels to ensure we got the maximum amount of participation. I have had friends at various ages commit suicide and or deal with mental health issues so I immediately escalated the importance and reach.”
“Just having the support means a lot,” Kirk said.
“It truly showed how giving is an important pillar within this brigade,” Fyffe said.
Last year the family raised between 200-300 books for children, said Jasmine. This year they nearly tripled the number.
“It’s so beautiful, people are willing to help if you ask,” Jasmine said.
Jasmine and Kirk plan to continue the tradition each year, hoping that the drive gets bigger. Last year they assisted one location, this year it is three.