Monday, March 24, 2014

Marine Corps Kids

Here is another interview with the coordinator of a very special charity effort geared towards the children of military families - in particular the U.S. Marines. I've sprinkled photos throughout (with permission) so you can see some of the work donated to this fine organization.

The name of this organization is Marine Corps Kids.

You can find the web sites at:

I'd like to thank Delia from taking the time to answer these questions and for all her work through the years for this worthy effort. 

Below is the interview.

Please introduce yourself and let us know your position or connection with the organization.
My name is Delia Igo.   Deb Conrad and I founded Marine Corps Kids in 2007 with the support of the Marine Corps Family Foundation.

How and when did the organization begin?
In 2007 I was doing a lot of crochet work for charity.  I was new to crochet, and was trying to turn all of my friends into crochet nuts like me.  I had a large group of acquaintances who met on the internet and became true real-life friends.  I recruited them to join me in making a patchwork blanket to donate.  One of my friends suggested that we donate the blanket to the family of a fallen Marine.  We created a beautiful blanket and a book of personal messages for the family.

It was a meaningful project for all of us, but it was shadowed by loss and sadness.  I thought how nice it might be to begin a similar project to send to the mother of a newborn whose husband/partner was deployed overseas.  I can only imagine how bittersweet it must be for a mother to welcome her new baby while the father was away and in danger.  The mother would be delighted with her new baby, but exhausted and stressed.  The father would have to wait months to meet his new child.  A gift to the family would be a kind gesture of support, and a way to thank the family for its service and sacrifice.

My friend, Deb Conrad, was a Marine Corps Mom whose son was in Iraq at the time.  Shane served three tours of duty overseas.  Deb and fellow Marine Corp Mom Connie Riecke, were founders of the Marine Corps Family Foundation - an organization that supported various projects starting with Operation Santa which sent holiday stockings to deployed Marines.

Deb suggested that instead of providing one gift to one family, we look to create an organization that would support the newborns of many deployed service men and women.  She had recently won a grant from the VA, and generously offered to donate those funds towards such a project.  With that donation Marine Corps Kids was founded.

In the beginning I used various crocheting and knitting websites to recruit donors for Marine Corps Kids.  Deb worked with Family Readiness Officers on base to identify families with newborns and assist in the distribution of care packages.  As social media became more popular, it became easier to reach out to donors and military families.

The Marine Corps Family Foundation continues to support the efforts of Marine Corps Kids by paying for our shipping fees.

What is the purpose of this organization?
The sole purpose of Marine Corps Kids is to support the families of our service men and women.  While our distribution efforts are mostly to Marines and their families, we are delighted to send care packages to families from any branch of the military.

How many others, besides yourself, are involved in leadership?
At this point I am recruiting donors, accepting donations, putting together care packages including items from various donors, and shipping these items to Family Readiness Officers on base and/or families with newborns.

Connie Riecke continues to manage the activities of the Marine Corps Family Foundation.  She helps to identify additional FROs that we can work with, and funds all of our shipping costs.

On a side note, we have no overhead other than our shipping charges.  Our donors are incredibly generous in sending beautiful hand-crafted gifts for the babies, and I have some wonderful friends who help me put together the gift bundles.  Monetary donation to Marine Corps Kids (which can be made through the Marine Corps Family Foundation site) are used solely to cover our shipping costs.

Do you personally deliver the collected items to the intended recipients? If you do not, who does and how do you ensure that the items get where they need to be?
In order to respect the privacy of the families who receive gifts from MCK, we work with the Family Readiness Officers on bases to help us distribute gifts.  In this way the names and addresses of the families are kept private.  This also helps us to minimize costs and shipping many gifts to one address is much less expensive than shipping gifts individually.  On occasion I am contacted by a military mom or family and friends of expecting moms.  When that occurs, I am happy to send a gift directly to the family.

How can fiber crafters help? What types of items do you accept?
We are delighted to accept gifts from fiber crafters, and do not place many restrictions on donations.  Donations should be new hand crafted items. We ask simply that all donations be baby-appropriate in size, color and material.  Yarns and fabrics should be of soft, and washable fibers.  We discourage the use of wool as many babies have sensitivities or allergies to wool.  We also ask that items sent from homes with pets or smokers be pre-washed.  (I have a wonderful cat and dog, and I know that I can't get through my knit, crochet, or weaving projects without a little pet fiber mixed in.  Babies don't need that extra gift.)

Do you accept all types of crafting - knitting, crochet, loom, quilting, cross-stitch, plastic canvas etc.?
Yes!  We are happy to accept any new and baby safe hand-crafted items.

Quilt by 13yo Christina
Are there any special tips or requirements for the items needed?
Yarns should be soft and machine washable.  Avoid wool.  Items should be sized appropriately for newborns and babies.

It is understandable that you need to have a person's contact information in case there is a problem and for recordkeeping. Do you allow participants to remain anonymous to those who receive the items?
Donors are welcome to tag their items with their name and with a short message of thanks to the families.  Items received without such tags are sent anonymously.

Is there a particular item that you yourself enjoy making more than any other?
In the beginning I was an avid crocheter.  I crocheted many hats, blankets and sweaters for the babies.  A few years ago I began to weave, and enjoyed creating blankets on my loom.  More recently I learned to knit.  Now I like to make hats and sweaters for the little ones.

Does your family participate in your charity effort? If so, how? If not, are they supportive of your work?
My husband, Brian, was extremely supportive of my work with Marine Corps Kids.  Sadly he passed away last year.  Without his support, I don't think that Marine Corps Kids would have grown as quickly as it has. [Sandie: I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to Delia on the loss of her husband. Big kudos to her for continuing this work even as she continues to grieve.]

Do you have any humorous stories to tell?

No, but I have hundreds of heartwarming stories about our donors, their contributions, and their gratitude to our military and their families.

What do you feel makes folks hesitate to participate in a charity that is not a 501(c) charity other than tax benefits? What would you say to convince them your effort is honest and trustworthy?
I don't know what makes people hesitate.  What I do know if that crafters enjoy sharing their talent.  Most of our donors have continued to send gifts for many years.  They are a wonderful supportive group who sincerely love what they do and love supporting the families.  While I haven't met many of our donors in real life, I have established many friendships through my work with this organization.

Who should a volunteer contact for more information on this organization?
They can contact me by e-mail at, or they can leave messages on our facebook page or blog site.

Do you have any advice for anyone trying to start their own charity effort?
Do it.  If something is near and dear to your heart, it will be near and dear to the hearts of others.  Use your online resources to find those people and watch your organization grow.

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about your charity effort or you personally?
I would like people to know how truly grateful I am to all of the wonderful people who support Marine Corps Kids and make what we do possible.  I am in awe of their talent and humbled by their unending generosity.

Thank you again to Delia for sharing this insight into Marine Corps Kids. If this effort touches your heart, please consider donating an item or two.

Happy crocheting!


  1. This is so awesome! My brother and grandfather are Marines and I have many other family members in one branch of the military or another. I think I have just found my next donation. Thank you for this information

    1. Fantastic! I think you will enjoy an association with Delia and her gang. They are great.

    2. Sandie,

      Thank you so much for posting this on your site. I have been a fan of your website for many years, and I am so touched that you have chosen to feature Marine Corps Kids!

      I am simply the administrator for this project - all the women (and men) who have donated to this effort over the years deserve all the recognition and thanks for making it possible for Marine Corps Kids to reach so many families!


    3. It was my honor to do it, Delia. Marine Corps Kids does great work!