By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
Since 2015, MOAA's Cape Canaveral (Fla.) Chapter has been supporting the military and veterans’ communities through its Good Deeds Foundation. In 2021 alone, the 501(c)(3) foundation supported nearly 40 organizations with contributions totaling more than $55,000 and impacting an estimated 21,000 individuals.
The foundation’s mission has four pillars it supports, according to its president, former Army Capt. Donn Weaver: youth programs, such as Junior ROTC (JROTC) and ROTC; junior enlisted servicemembers and their families; veterans in need; and other nonprofit organizations in the community supporting servicemembers and veterans.
The foundation has supported numerous recipient organizations annually, including Wreaths Across America, Space Coast Honor Flight, National Veterans Homeless Support (NVHS), and First Sergeant’s Council Operation Warm Hearts for junior enlisted servicemembers at Patrick AFB. Local JROTC units also are among the annual recipients.
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“About a third of our budget goes to JROTC,” said Weaver. “Every August, as schools are getting ready to start, we present checks to the local JROTC instructors.” In 2021, 15 JROTC programs each received $1,500 from the foundation.
“Most people are concerned about the future of our country, so they want to support groups who support the youth,” said Weaver.
Funds for the foundation come from chapter member donations; contributions from individuals, businesses, and organizations in the community; and an annual chapter golf tournament, which raised about $29,000 in 2021.
Weaver said transparency about how the funds are being used has been key to getting donations.
“Through local media, the [chapter] newsletter, and the foundation’s impact report, people see what we do [with the funds],” he said. “When we tell those stories [about the recipients] … people are much more likely to donate.”
Weaver said the Cape Canaveral Chapter is proud of the Good Deeds Foundation, pointing to the impact it has on recipients.
“To be able to tell a JROTC instructor, ‘Here is a check for your program for $1,500,’ it frees up time for them and their students to study, work, and do more drills because they don’t have to spend as much time doing fundraisers for their programs,” Weaver said. “We also are impacting homeless [veterans] and veterans on the edge through NVHS and other groups we trust … by helping to save them from homelessness or having their power turned off.”
Weaver said the foundation’s goal is continued growth.
“We are going to continue our outreach to get more [donors], so we have as much flexibility to give more to the four pillars. We believe the needs of these communities will not stop.”
Blair Drake is a contributing editor for MOAA and lives in Souderton, Pa. She previously served on the editorial team of Military Officer magazine for nine years.