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Top III comes to aid of local children's home

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

The MacDill Top III Association has a reputation of community involvement and support, but a new project in which the NCOs and enlisted servicemembers are helping the abused and neglected kids of a local orphanage is earning the group even greater praise.

The most-recent assistance the group provided was painting doors in the girl's dorm. Some 80 doors were given a treatment of fresh paint, said Mike Higgins, director of the Hope Children's Home. The help is much appreciated and crucial to the home, which does not receive any tax funding, he said.

"We run entirely on donations, so any help we can get is great," said Higgins. "The help (the Top III) is giving is very important to us and they are doing a great job."

Higgins said the influence of military personnel is a positive one on the children, many of whom have not had leadership role models in their lives.

"A couple of the older children have talked to recruiters as an offshoot of their (the Top III) involvement here," said Higgins.

One member of the group recently received deployment orders, he said, donating her car to the home. "That was a real blessing for us," said Higgins.

Master Sgt. Tony Tingley said the group has about 15 people assigned to helping the children's home. The efforts, which have been ongoing for three months or so, are just the beginning, he said.

"We are looking to do a lot more for them," said Tingley. "There is a lot of work to do."

He said the Top III is planning to buy the home a new U.S. flag. The old flag will be burned in a ceremony at the home as a lesson for the children on the proper disposal of a flag, said Tingley.

"But while helping with chores and other such needs is important, it is the mentoring role that may be the most important," said Higgins. These kids really benefit from positive influences, he said.

Tingley said the Top III has about 275 members on base. Organized for enlisted members and NCOs, the group is involved in many activities and efforts to improve the quality of life for servicemembers, including upgrading dorms on base. About $6,000 is spent annually on these quality-of-life-services, said Tingley.

The group also organizes volleyball games and other activities on base as well as sponsoring ALS awards.




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