Operation R & R
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Operation R & R

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Giving Back

Giving Back , One Family Starts an Effort to Provide R&R for Military Families

We continue to be reminded through news reports and internet articles of our country's military activity, particularly overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our correspondence ministry alone repeatedly sends gifts, letters and care packages to military personnel as a small token of appreciation for their service.

Two of our own church family, Grant and Mia Evans, have taken that reminder seriously. In apprecation and admiration for the dedication of our men and women in uniform, they started an effort known as Operation R&R.

Grant and Mia are condo owners and part-time residents of Hilton Head, South Carolina. They decided that what they could offer would be a week of rest and relaxation for military families to reconnect with their loved ones- either while on leave or upon their return stateside from active duty. By January 1 of this year, over 60 of their neighbors had joined the Evanses in donating their living spaces for military families during the island's off-season- from January through May and September through Dececmber.

Military participants can select three dates of preference to use the donated property. A "greeter family" (from a pool of 50-60 volunteers) is assigned to welcome the visitors, escort them to their "home' for the week and be their contact point during their visit. Over 35 restaurants have joined the effort in donating either "buy-one-get-one-free" offers, discounts or picking up the entire meal cost.

"I did not intend to spend this much time, money, effort on this... but now it's changing lives," said Grant Evans, founder and president of Operation R&R. He cites the 65% divorce rate common among military families as a reason for the need for this period of re-connection.

During the first phase of Operation R&R, 54 military families- including several hundred children- from all over the United States has enjoyed a week on the island at little or no cost, thanks to the donations of property owners and local restaurants. The popularity of the program has grown to point that Operation R&R is now a 501(c)3 non-profit. "If God knows you are doing something good, He's going to make it big, " states Mia Evans.

An excerpt from one of the thank you notes received from one of the service men reads:

"The Operation R&R program offered a beautiful and relaxed environment as my family got used to me being around again. There is no way to show the positive, long-lasting impact this week's experience has had on my family. Thank you."

When Phase 2 of the program starts in September, the goal is to play host to 300 to 350 families. Because of its location on the island, the program is proximal to several of the larger military bases in the country. Plans are to double the number of restaurants and entertainment partners in this phase. The program is also seeking grocery stores to match donated funds in the way of food credit for military families while on the island. 


Operation R & R
Operation R & R

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