Members of the U.S. military live by a sacred commitment: Leave no one behind. And that mindset carries forward long after the battlefield. For Tara Vaughn Baldwin, the sister of a fallen soldier, fulfilling the promise of “no one left behind” means taking care of the children of fallen service members.
Baldwin is the founder of Stuart-based Operation 300, a nonprofit that hosts weekend adventure camps for children who have lost their fathers to military service. Kids are paired up with a male to enjoy activities through the weekend, which may include things like sailing, fishing, bowling, archery, and making bonfires. “One of the biggest things [for these kids] is knowing there’s somebody out there who cares about them, simply because of who their father was and what he did for our country,” says Baldwin.
Operation 300, which Baldwin says is almost entirely led by volunteers, celebrates its tenth anniversary in September and remains focused on its impact for the next decade to come. This year, the organization will host seven camps, each of which will benefit 40 to 50 children and their mothers. The next retreat takes place April 22-24 (with upcoming retreats also May 20-22 and July 22-24).
In late 2021, programming expanded to include Gold Star Father Retreats, which are aimed at fathers who have lost a child serving in the military. The nonprofit also recently received a generous gift: Pulte Homes donated 20 acres of land in Stuart that will serve as Operation 300’s permanent home base. It is just one example of the generosity the nonprofit has received from community members. “Martin County is one of the most philanthropic and generous communities,” says Baldwin. “The spirit here is that if one person wins, the whole community wins.”