Riverside County youth to be honored for patriotic service

TEMECULA – A 16-year-old Temecula teen who founded an organization that seeks to make life a little better for the children of service members — particularly those who have suffered losses — will receive a $5,000 check for her patriotic service, it was announced today.

Kenzie Hall is one of five youths from across the country to be honored with a ”Military Child of the Year Award” from San Antonio-based Operation Homefront.

The nonprofit, which provides financial and other assistance to military families, each year selects five children from military families in each service branch to receive the award for engaging in activities beneficial to their communities.

”The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn at a very young age what it means to be a patriot,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of Operation Homefront. ”These children thrive in the face of the challenges of military life with grace and courage and use that experience to become leaders in their communities. The Military Child of the Year Award honors their resiliency.”

Kenzie is receiving the award in recognition of her efforts to help fellow “military brats” through a school-based group she started at age 11 called Brat Pack 11.

According to Operation Homefront, the organization began as a resource to help military kids connect and adapt to new surroundings. Last year, however, Kenzie expanded Brat Pack 11 from a social networking platform to a nonprofit that supports excursions and recreational opportunities for children who have lost a parent or been separated from them for an extended period of time.

As part of the effort, Brat Pack 11 partnered with the Boot Campaign, which aims to “provide a temporary respite in the form of an unforgettable experience in which a child has an interest,” according to the group’s website.

Kenzie’s father, Jason Hall, is a U.S. Army captain who serves with the Army Recruiting Battalion in Southern California.

According to the teen, her goal this year and beyond is to establish Brat Pack 11 chapters at grade-school campuses nationwide, especially where there’s a large population of military kids.

Operation Homefront’s awards ceremony is scheduled for April 10 in Washington, D.C.

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