Dover-based organization steps in

Active duty military personnel and families in financial straits can find help from a statewide group set up for that purpose.

Organized by Air Force veteran and Dover city councilman William F. Hare, the Delaware Military Support Organization works to help service members and their families, regardless of military branch.

“We are aiming to assist active military personnel and their families from unexpected expenses and when they find themselves feeling helpless,” Hare said.

Kay Sass, vice chairwoman of the DMSO board of directors, said the organization “allows us the opportunity to assist those who dedicate their time protecting us, who themselves have a financial hardship regardless of the situation.”

DMSO supports families arriving in Dover when a loved one is killed under hostile fire, teaches young children about their parents’ deployments, and assists spouses and children of deployed personnel.

Hare’s 2013 portrayal of Santa Claus at Dover AFB launched DMSO, he said.

A girl told Santa she wanted to find a Barbie doll under her tree, but a look from the girl’s mother told him that would not happen. The family’s dire financial situation -- the father was deployed and the mother jobless -- just cried out for someone to help, Hare said.

“I said, this isn’t right,” he recalled.

Although initially serving just airmen at Dover AFB, the group soon expanded its focus to include all branches.

A 501c(3) group made up completely of volunteers, their aim is to support Air Force staff sergeants, U.S. Army and Marine Corps sergeants and Navy and Coast Guard petty officers second-class, and lower ranking enlisted personnel.

They raise money from donations and an annual fundraiser. The most recent, April 28 at the Harvest Ridge Winery, brought in $18,000.

They’ve helped find a riding lawnmower for a cancer-stricken airman, found money to resolve a spouse’s medical bill problem, and most recently gifted a wounded National Guard airman with more than $1,000 to help with home repairs.

DMSO’s efforts have been recognized by Dover’s Gals That Give, a nonprofit whose mission is to raise money for different charities.

While many groups work to help veterans, there aren’t enough acting on behalf of those still in uniform, Hare said.

“We’re here to try and do that,” he noted. “We want to help more. The needs are there.”

To sponsor an event, volunteer time or donate to DMSO, visit delawaremilitarysupport.com.