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Fallen soldier’s daughter surprised with princess party, poodle and scholarship

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Sgt. Jermayne Young died 7 years ago while serving 12 years in the military leaving behind a wife and three young daughters.

"He was a really good guy," said his wife, Eleanor Young. "Eventually, it was too much for him and that was the battle that he lost."

Eleanor and Jermayne Young.

Eleanor and Jermayne Young.

Suddenly, Eleanor was forced to become a single mother to her daughters Courtney, Camile and Carmen overnight.

"The pain I feel the most is that the girls miss their father so much and there’s nothing I can do about it," she said.

The Young family of Chesterfield is not alone and Daryl Mackin wanted to do something about it after his neighbor's son died serving our country.

"After he lost his son he said to me in anger, 'Did it really freaking matter?' and 'Does anybody give a damn?" Mackin remembered.

Mackin aimed to find a way to honor and celebrate the children of fallen soldiers, so he started A Soldier's Child Foundation. Mackin served as a Petty Officer in the Navy.

"For most Americans Memorial Day has lost what it’s really about, and Memorial Day is everyday for these kids," Mackin said.

Mackin heard about the Young's story and worked with Mechanicsville-based Owens & Minor, a healthcare logistics company, to throw the family a surprise party for Courtney's eighth birthday.

"We come in and celebrate these children. We give them love, hope and honor," he said.

Owens & Minor, one of the program's corporate partners, organizes shopping and wrapping events at their facilities across the country to pack up boxes of presents to send out to about 200 children per month.

"Is it a difference to a child that their dad died from sniper fire, a training accident, a stroke or they committed suicide?" Mackin asked. "No, they lost their dad."

On Saturday, in a room full of family, friends and strangers, Mackin presented the Young family with new bikes and toys during a princess-themed party.

The Folded Flag Foundation presented the three girls with full college scholarships and the offer to switch to private schooling. Tidelands Poodle Rescue gave Courtney a poodle puppy and A Soldier's Child will fly the family out to Nashville for a week-long trip to camp in July.

"When someone just genuinely wants to do something nice for you it’s kind of like my husband telling me it’s going to be OK," Eleanor said.

The foundation's goals are to celebrate each child's birthday until the age of 18, to sponsor a ASC Journey Camp each summer, and to facilitate in college scholarships for the children.

More than 2,500 children who have lost a parent in combat, training accident or suicide are part of the program.

A Soldier's Child is currently in open enrollment. If you'd like to donate to the foundation click here.

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