NEW YORK -- "As the first planes took off at dawn's early light,
Brave men and women held their loved ones and said goodbye,
Heading into the battle zone-
Not knowing if they'd ever come back home.
I say a little prayer and thank them every day.
'Cause they're the reason there's still a good ol' USA."
From the singer/songwriter Todd Shea's new song, "I Love America," these words are part of his tribute to the people living in and fighting for the United States. More than half of the profits from his recently released album will go to The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, Inc.
The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation was formed in January 1995 as an all-volunteer non-profit organization to give scholarships and/or bonds to every eligible child of a Marine who is killed or dies while on duty. According to the foundation's mission statement, the bonds are valued up to $20,000 each. It also awards the same bonds to eligible children of Federal law enforcement agents who are killed or die while on duty. The foundation also awarded higher education scholarships to members of military personnel killed in the line of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"One-hundred cents of every dollar we receive goes directly to the children we serve," said Peter Haas, President of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. "Last year alone we gave out 11 million dollars, and 40 thousand in bonds."
In January, Charity Navigator, a company that claims to be America's premiere independent charity navigator, awarded the foundation with a four-star rating. The company rates charities on a one to four star rating system, with four being the biggest rating. "The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation has demonstrated exceptional financial health," Charity Navigator correspondence to the foundation said. "Your supporters can be assured that the (foundation) is worthy of their trust and commitment."
According to the June issue of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation Newsletter, the foundation has given eligible children in excess of $18 million to date. It's contributions from people like Shea that has made that possible.
"Speaking in strictly monetary terms, I have raised far more money...than any funds I have taken in as a result of my music," wrote Todd Shea on his website. "Other people picked up their guitars after 9/11-there's nothing wrong with that, but I put mine down," wrote Shea. He was in New York City during the 2001 terrorist attacks, and he spent the days after the attacks delivering food and medical supplies to the emergency personnel at Ground Zero. Shea met several Marines during those days at Ground Zero. One of those Marines suggested the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation when Shea wanted to donate profits from his new album.
"I didn't release this music because I want to get rich or become famous," wrote Shea. "I don't care about material things. I'd much rather be known for doing positive things than simply as a recording artist."
"It's extremely generous of him," said Dick Torykian, Vice Chairman of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. Haas said actions like Shea's are what make the foundation so successful. "We get all kinds of donations," said Haas. "Everything from checks from big companies to kids who send money from their allowances or lemonade stands."
Haas also said the recipients of the bonds receive more than financial aid. "It helps the kids understand the significance of their parent's sacrifice," said Haas.
According to Haas, Shea is just one voice of the American people. "You have no idea how people really feel," he said. "It's amazing how much heart they have."
Shea shares that feeling in the chorus of his album's title song, "I Love America."
"The land of the free and the home of the brave,
Where we will fight for the right
To make our own destiny.
I just can't say it enough,
I love America."
To find out more about Todd Shea or buy his cd, visit www.toddshea.com. For more information on the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, visit www.mc-lef.org.