Treat bags and thank-you notes for military kids at local elementary schools.

Local schools celebrated the Month of the Military Child with parties, posters and the color purple. Because military kids serve, too, area elementary schools FishHawk Creek, Bevis, Stowers and Lithia Springs designated a week in April to show their appreciation for the sacrifices these students make while supporting their military parents.

In 1986, April was designated Month of the Military Child by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to recognize and thank children from military families for the sacrifices they make living the military lifestyle. Purple UP is the campaign that propels activities throughout the Month of the Military Child to honor, acknowledge and support military-connected kids in our schools and communities.

FishHawk Creek Elementary School offered a They Serve, Too dessert bar for their Military Kids’ Club members. Their military or veteran parent wrote thank-you letters to their kids expressing their gratitude for support and bravery when faced with challenges of deployments and multiple moves. Students read their surprise thank-you notes while enjoying a sea of purple treats. Military Kids’ Club volunteers served up nearly 72 military students with a note of gratitude with a side of purple sweets.

Emily Robinson, a Marine spouse with two military students at FishHawk Creek, said, “The Purple UP dessert bar and thank-you notes were especially important for military kids because they need to be reminded and thanked for their service, too. They grow up in families where sacrifice, deployments and frequent change are normal and expected.”

Stowers, Lithia Springs and Bevis Elementary designated a day for all staff and students to wear the color purple, celebrated with activities and adorned bulletin boards with facts about military life. Randall Middle School, with nearly 150 military students, also offered a special day to wear purple and hosted doughnuts for their military kids.

According to the Hillsborough County Public School records, Fishhawk and Lithia area schools have the largest population of military-connected students outside the gates of MacDill AFB. Many military families move to the area for the highly-rated schools, despite the long and arduous commute to MacDill AFB.

Schools with a large population of military-connected students are faced with supporting the unique lifestyle military families experience. According to the Department of Defense, active duty military families move every one to three years and the average military-connected student will attend six to nine schools during their K-12 school experience. The continual moving creates challenges in academic and social growth for many military kids.

A study published in Military Medicine found that military kids who move more frequently may experience greater difficulty making new friends, may struggle more in school and could have more emotional and behavioral issues. However, the study says a supportive family, school and community can help prevent many issues.

FishHawk and Lithia schools joined other schools from around the world in April by recognizing these little warriors during the Month of the Military Child while filling their school hallways with a sea of purple and camouflage.