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THANKSUSA ANNOUNCES NINTH ANNUAL TREASURE HUNT CHALLENGE

November 26, 2013, Washington, DC – ThanksUSA and their partner the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation today announced the launch of the ninth annual ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt (TH9), a free, fully interactive digital trivia and puzzle game about U.S. history, culture and values. The hunt supports ThanksUSA’s annual scholarship fund to benefit the children and spouses of active-duty military personnel by providing need-based scholarships for two-year or four-year colleges, vocational or technical schools. The focus of this year’s hunt will be the United States Bill of Rights.

The digital trivia game will be assessable starting Thanksgiving Day, November 28. Participants will be quizzed on the Bill of Rights’ history, purpose and implications on American life. It is the first of six Treasure Hunt chapters available for free online (www.thanksusa.org) and via mobile application.

“Treasure Hunt 9 promises to be one of our most challenging contests ever, engaging students and their families across the country while reminding them of the sacrifices of our troops,” said ThanksUSA Executive Director Michele Stork. “The ESA Foundation’s continued support for the contest and scholarships will help ThanksUSA cross the $10 million mark in scholarships.”

The ESA Foundation has underwritten the annual Treasure Hunt series for five years and also funds 25 “ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarships” annually. Since its inception in 2005, more than 12,000 Americans have engaged in ThanksUSA treasure hunts that reflect the nation’s history, values and culture while raising awareness and funds for the educational pursuits of military families.

“The U.S. video game industry is proud to support our nation’s troops and their families,” said Jenny Lai, vice president of the ESA Foundation. “We are proud to help educate children through the use of digital technology and bring our unique and impactful resources to augment ThanksUSA’s remarkable mission and work.”

Following the official launch of Treasure Hunt Nine on November 28, subsequent chapters will be introduced on the first of each month beginning January 1, 2014. The six-month Bill of Rights challenge will close on May 31, 2014, and will be followed by a summer bonus round slated for July 4 – August 15, 2014.

Four players who correctly answer each chapter’s questions will each receive a $250 Walmart gift certificate. A grand prize – a $500 Walmart gift card – will be drawn from the pool of individuals who correctly answer all questions in each round.

The Treasure Hunt series serves to generate attention and donations for ThanksUSA’s annual scholarship fund. Since 2006, ThanksUSA award over 3,000 need-based scholarships valued at nearly $10 million to families representing all branches of the armed services across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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ThanksUSA_Logo_1About ThanksUSA
Founded in the fall of 2005, ThanksUSA, a non-partisan 501(c) (3) organization, is an effort to thank the men and women of our armed forces and their families for their service to the country with the gift of education. The organization provides need-based, post-secondary education opportunities to the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel through competitive scholarships. For more information, please visit www.ThanksUSA.org.

PrintAbout the ESA Foundation
The ESA Foundation was created by the American interactive entertainment software industry to support and provide opportunities that can make a difference in the lives of America’s youth. The Foundation is fully supported by proceeds from industry projects and and its annual fundraiser, “A Nite to Unite – for Kids.” For more information about the ESA Foundation, please visit www.ESAFoundation.org

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ThanksUSA is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2013-2014 academic year. Completing a scholarship application may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really just a matter of providing the requested information. A complete overview of this year’s scholarship program can be found here, but the following can help get you started:

Tips For Completing The ThanksUSA Scholarship Application

  • Carefully read through the entire application. Be sure to fill it out completely and accurately. Proofread your application and verify that all supporting documents are attached before submitting.
  • When stating your educational and career objectives, be concrete. Tell us what you are studying and why. Even if you’re undecided about your major, relay what you wish to accomplish with your education.
  • Demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded individual. List all of you activities and be sure to include any recognition you have received for them. You may immediately think of academics or sports, but what about your community involvement? Are you involved with a religious organization? Have you participated in charitable drives? Do you have a hobby? Are you employed? Do you mentor or tutor? Don’t sell yourself short!
  • If you don’t understand a portion of the application, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance: thanksusa@scholarshipamerica.org

The ThanksUSA team encourages you to share ThanksUSA’s mission with your family and friends – Just click on one of the social links below. Don’t forget to support our mission by making your tax-deductible donation today!

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ThanksUSA Scholarship Application Season Opens for 2013: Hundreds to be Awarded 

Children and spouses of U.S. troops are invited to apply for ThanksUSA scholarships beginning April 1, 2013.  The organization’s eighth annual application season helps military families pursue a university, college or post-secondary vocational education.

“These scholarships reflect Americans’ gratitude for the commitment and sacrifices of our military men and women and their families,” said ThanksUSA CEO and Chairman Bob Okun.  “The gift of education is our way of saying thanks for their service.”

ThanksUSA provides need-based scholarships to the children and spouses of active-duty personnel across all the Armed Forces, the National Guard and Reserves, as well as families of the fallen and wounded.  Applications will be accepted through May 15, 2013 online at www.ThanksUSA.org.

ThanksUSA has awarded 2,800 scholarships so far and expects to exceed 3,000 scholarships by the end of 2013.

“In past years, we’ve received thousands of requests during the six-week application period –  a clear indication of the support our military families need,” said ThanksUSA Executive Director Michele Stork.  “We expect an equally strong response in 2013. Our aim is to benefit 500 new recipients who most need and deserve the opportunity to transform their lives, but lack the resources to do so.”

The 500 ThanksUSA scholarships are valued at $1.5 million in total and are made possible by continuing campaigns and events.

  • Tennis Thanks the Troops – The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) is championing this campaign for a second year, calling on its members, pros and tennis enthusiasts to participate in tournaments, raffles and other activities to benefit ThanksUSA starting Memorial Day weekend and throughout the year.
  • Stevens Commemorative Scholarships – 2013 marks the third year of scholarships in honor of the late Senator Ted Stevens.  An additional 40 scholarships are expected to be announced at a special event honoring the late Senator and other Congressional World War II veterans.
  • Kaplan University Support – Also entering its third year as a ThanksUSA partner is Washington-based Kaplan University. Kaplan University provides a full scholarship to attend the school as well as a number of partial scholarships to cover 55 percent of tuition costs.  “Kaplan University is once again pleased to participate with ThanksUSA and to offer scholarship opportunities to our military families,” said Scott Kilgore, senior vice president of military affairs, Kaplan University.
  • Jackson Casey Scholarship Fund –In partnership with ThanksUSA, the Fund, whose mission is to keep the memory and spirit of Jackson Casey alive throughout the community, was created to provide need-based scholarships to the children of active-duty military from Virginia with an emphasis on Northern Virginia. Through donations and the annual Jackson Casey Memorial Golf Tournament, the Fund raised more than $200,000 in 2012. For the 2012-2013 school year, 15 scholarships totaling $45,000 were awarded in Jackson Casey’s name.

Support for ThanksUSA’s education goals also comes from donors including Altria, Apex, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, ESA Foundation, Folds of Honor Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, Intelligent Decisions, Lockheed Martin, No Greater Sacrifice Foundation, Paladin Capital Group, Pershing Square Foundation and others.

ThanksUSA was the idea of two Virginia sisters, Rachel and Kelsi Okun, who were compelled to thank our troops for defending our nation and its freedoms.  Since 2006, the 501(c)(3) non-profit has provided nearly $8.5 million in academic scholarship assistance to US military families throughout all 50 states, and all branches of service, with particular attention given to those whose loved one was killed or wounded in action.

For more information, eligibility requirements and to apply, visit www.ThanksUSA.org.

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About ThanksUSA

Founded in the fall of 2005, ThanksUSA, a non-partisan 501(c) (3) organization, is an effort to thank the men and women of our armed forces and their families for their service to the country with the gift of education. The organization provides need-based, post-secondary education opportunities to the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel through competitive scholarships. For more information, please visit http://www.ThanksUSA.org.

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Samantha McEnhill has had an exciting year. Within the past twelve months, she has gotten married, relocated 2,000 miles from her previous home, and has, ever so slightly, altered her education plan. This week, Samantha speaks about staying focused on her academic goals while adjusting to military life.

Samantha spent much of her childhood honing her musical performance skills. As she aged, the enjoyment that she got from playing instruments developed into a love for music. Soon after, she realized the cultural value of all the arts and explains, “From visual art to literature, my love for the humanities and fine arts grew from a budding curiosity into a genuine passion.”

Thanks, in part, to a $3,000 Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Samantha is now able to study the arts full-time. Samantha’s academic journey began three years ago at Michigan State University. When her husband received orders to California, Samantha was determined to complete her education. She is currently studying liberal arts at Solano Community College and plans to return to a four-year university to finish her humanities degree.

Samantha says, “Even though my bachelor’s degree may be taking longer to finish than I originally planned, I am staying focused on the positives. I would definitely encourage others not to dwell on setbacks you may be facing!”

Samantha also points out that she is not alone on her academic journey. Her husband, Airman Richard “Rick” McEnhill II, USAF, is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree with plans to commission as a Combat Rescue Officer. Samantha adds, “He is a great man, and I am so glad I get to stand by his side and watch his military career progress, all the way from its beginning to end!”

The young couple has adapted well to their first big PCS. They have settled into their new home, found a welcoming church to call their own, and began volunteering with San Francisco’s Marine Mammal Center.

As Rick and Samantha face the challenges of military life together, Samantha’s attitude remains positive. Ideally, she will earn her teaching credentials so that she can teach art history or humanities. She realizes that another PCS could further delay her degree, but says, “This is not a race to see who can finish their degree first. The education does not diminish in value based on the time it takes to complete.”

Well said, Samantha! ThanksUSA is honored to provide scholarships to military dependents and spouses. You can help provide the gift of education by making your tax-deductible donation today. You can even direct your Combined Federal Campaign contribution to ThanksUSA by using code 99441 on your pledge form.

“The Stephen Curry/ThanksUSA Scholarship has made an incredible difference in my education this year! We can breathe so much easier knowing that there are foundations like ThanksUSA who are willing to offer scholarship support to military families, so we can continue our education. We are so grateful.”

– Samantha McEnhill

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Welcome back to Scholarship News! Now that ThanksUSA scholarship recipients are adjusted to campus life and have established their routines, I will post this weekly feature to introduce supporters to some of our outstanding scholars. Thanks to the generosity of our corporate sponsors, individual supporters, and fundraising campaigns, ThanksUSA was able to award over 300 scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year!

For the first installment of 2012-13, I am honored to introduce Army dependent Danielle Lomax. Danielle received a $3,000 Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship to continue her Public Relations and Sports Management studies at Howard University. This week, the “young urban professional with a passion for public relations, community relations, and sports management,” shares some her recent academic accomplishments and lets her military pride shine.

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Danielle was just a freshman in high school when her father, LTC Dwight Lomax, USA (Ret), deployed to Afghanistan. She recounts, “It was definitely one of the hardest experiences that I have ever had to endure. I spent an entire year cringing every time the telephone or doorbell rang. I am so grateful that my father was able to return to the U.S. safely. Some families haven’t been as fortunate as mine.”

Though he retired from the Army a few years ago, LTC Lomax’s dedication to military service continues. Dedicated to creating future leaders through education, he spearheaded the first JROTC class at Lake Braddock Secondary in Burke, Virginia.

Danielle’s pride in her father and his Army career are evident. When asked about being raised in the military, Danielle said, “My dad’s service in the US Army has awarded him with the opportunity to travel the world and meet a plethora of influential people including my amazing mother (who has also served in the US Army). He is the first member of his family to not only serve in the military but to also receive a college diploma.”

Grateful for her own opportunity to attend college, Danielle knew the importance of pursuing the right major. Since childhood, she had been interested in sports. She played soccer, learned tae kwon do, and became a cheerleader. Though her participation in multiple sports was rewarding, Danielle realized that she was much more interested in what was going on “behind the scenes.” She soon discovered that an academic focus in the field of sports management would be the perfect fit.

Currently in her junior year at Howard, Danielle has already gained valuable experience in preparation for a successful career. Last year, she served as the Athletics Coordinator for the Howard University Student Association. The role gave her the opportunity to “market” Howard’s sports program by hosting events and programs that eliminated the gap between student-athletes and the rest of the student body.

Danielle also interned with the Sports Programming department at Sirius XM. She reports, “Interning with Sirius XM provided my first glimpse of the world of sports business.” She also began a blog, American Sports Addiction (click to visit), which she explains, “exposes Internet readers to (sports) issues that don’t usually make headline news.”

Many sports enthusiasts would be envious of Danielle’s recent study abroad in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics. “Studying abroad during the Summer Olympics introduced me to the global sports market. It definitely broadened my view of the sports industry and solidified my decision of entering the sports marketing industry. Sports are one of the few commonalities that connect people from every corner of the globe,” she says.

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Broadening her education through such experiences has encouraged Danielle to consider employment outside of the United States. She explains, “As we move toward a more globalized economy, we must continue to be open to working with other cultures in foreign environments.”

Danielle will certainly be entering a more competitive job market if she seeks international employment. She has already proven herself to be a dedicated student and has made time to participate in campus organizations such as the Student Association, Honors Program, Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, Public Relations Student Society of America, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Danielle maintains a balance between academics, organizational participation, and her social life through strict time management. She advises, “Whether you’re using a tablet, smart phone, laptop or an old school planner, use it to plan your day. I live by a planner. My day is programmed and synchronized from the minute that I wake up. Organization is key.”

Danielle’s discipline, work ethic, and self-motivation have helped her become the successful, confident scholar that she is today. The ThanksUSA team congratulates Danielle on receipt of her Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship and we encourage you to continue your support of military dependents like her.

“I am very grateful for organizations such as ThanksUSA. It’s no secret that the cost of a attaining an education increases each year. As a college junior in the Nation’s Capitol, I am often faced with financial hardships. The Folds of Honor Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship will help pay for my tuition for the fall semester.” – Danielle Lomax

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This past Wednesday, friends and supporters of ThanksUSA gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the legacy of the late Senator Ted Stevens while raising funds to support the second year of Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships to be awarded through ThanksUSA.

The Honorable Ted Stevens was the U.S. Senator from Alaska and was the longest-serving Republican in the United States Senate. He served continuously from 1968 to 2009. Senator Stevens enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and served in the China-Burma-India Theater with the Fourteenth Air Force Transport Section and received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1964, and became House majority leader in his second term. In 1968, he was appointed U.S. Senator to Alaska after the death of Senator Bob Bartlett. He held many leadership roles in the Senate, including Assistant Republican Leader (Whip) from 1977 to 1985, and Senate President Pro Tempore in 2003, and chaired many committees in his senatorial career, including Appropriations and Commerce.

Staffer for Congressman Young, Catherine Stevens, Sid Ashworth of Northrup Grumman, Maj Gen Pete Proctor, USA (Ret)

We extend our warmest appreciation to Mrs. Catherine Stevens, widow of the late senator, for joining active and retired military personnel, members of Congress, and ThanksUSA team members for this special fundraising event.

ThanksUSA Scholarship recipient, Jennifer Benecke, attended with her husband, Chief Petty Officer George Benecke, U.S. Navy, and thanked those in attendance for their continued support of ThanksUSA. In a few months, Jennifer will graduate from the University of Maryland: University College with a B.S. in Psychology. She is currently making plans to attend graduate and, eventually, hopes to work as a counselor to military veterans.

Jennifer and George Benecke with ThanksUSA's Michele Stork

Thanks to the generosity of ThanksUSA sponsors such as EADS and Lockheed Martin, ThanksUSA will once again honor the memory of Senator Stevens by awarding 40 Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships, valued at $3,000 each, to the children and spouses of U.S. military personnel pursuing post-secondary school education.

Senator Ted Stevens Memorial Scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year are sponsored by EADS, Lockheed Martin, Rumsfeld Foundation, Altria, Northrup Grumman, TimeWarner, Express Scripts, General Dynamics, GE, Association of the United States Army, and Boeing.

Please visit the ThanksUSA Facebook page to view additional photos from the luncheon.

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Kyle Werstein wants to use his education to inspire others to take action. The recipient of a $3000 ESA foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship, Kyle is currently in his sophomore year of Graphic Design studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Kyle Werstein with his parents, Patricia and Timothy

Kyle describes graphic design as a means for “creating timeless communication that can be applied across a variety of mediums.”  He points out that as an increasingly paperless society, “It’s an exciting time to be a designer and a communicator. We have the unique opportunity to attempt to bring hundreds of years of tradition designing on paper into the digital age.”

Kyle has already demonstrated his talent and is beginning to gain recognition in his field. Below is a recent CD cover that he designed for Minneapolis jazz artist, Cory Wong.

design by Kyle Werstein

Like most artists, Kyle’s interests are not limited to his field of study. He enjoys exploring other graphic-related arts such as painting and screen printing, while expressing his interests in the performing arts through writing and performing with a Minneapolis rock band.

When Kyle completes his undergraduate studies, he plans to continue his education by earning his masters and doctorate degrees. “I hope to eventually work my way into the field of nonprofits and community involvement, using my skills to generate awareness and involvement in great issues affecting us today,” says Kyle.

He has already demonstrated his commitment to community outreach at the campus level. As part of an internship, Kyle created a social media campaign for a non-profit Equine Therapy center. He also co-founded MCAD’s bike club which subsidizes inexpensive bicycle helmets for students and he creates communications to raise scholarship funds through the alumni relations department.

Kyle clearly demonstrates the “pay it forward” concept that ThanksUSA supporters understand so well. He notes that his military upbringing shaped him into the respectful and civic-minded young man that he is today.

Kyle’s father, Sergeant First Class Timothy Werstein, U.S. Army (Ret), served our country for nearly 25 years. Kyle’s pride shines through as he reflects on his father’s career saying, “He’s served in Bosnia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Qatar and left the service with a number of commendations and accolades. If anything, my dad provided me with a strong role model and someone to look up to. His career compounded his own strong work ethic, which he in turn passed on to me. Being a military child has not been something I have ever taken for granted. It’s taught me respect for civics and my country, instilled in me a worldview that far surpasses most people my age and showed me the value of sacrifice. I’m grateful every day for the experience I have had.”

Now, as a young adult, Kyle is applying his strong work ethic to his collegiate pursuits. ThanksUSA is proud to be a part of Kyle’s educational journey and we thank him for sharing with us. We close this week’s feature with a message of gratitude from Kyle:

“Receiving the $3000 ESA Foundation/ThanksUSA Scholarship has provided me with a great sense of financial security. Paying for college is an extremely stressful endeavor, and your generous sponsorship has awarded me with an indescribable peace of mind. Thank you for giving an opportunity to the children of military families, as well, and recognizing the unique sacrifices we, as “Brats,” make every day. From the bottom of mine and my family’s heart, thank you.”

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