Cpl Kyle R. Schneider Foundation Continues Marine’s Legacy of Service
The life and sacrifice of Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider, U.S. Marine Corps
Kyle R. Schneider, a U.S. Marine, died in combat while leading troops on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. His parents, Rick and Lori Schneider said goodbye to him at a hero’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery, but they decided Kyle’s sacrifice and the generosity of his life had to live on.
They decided to channel their grief and sadness into helping someone—every day—in Kyle’s memory. They wanted to continue their son’s legacy of caring for others. Their resolve led to the establishment of the Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider Foundation in 2013, and their work has become a full time job.
In time, Rick and Lori focused their efforts on helping veterans in Central New York, and their work has become a life-affirming enterprise.
“If we are to survive as a family,” Lori Schneider remarks, “we have to talk about him and his legacy of giving.”
The Schneiders set up their charitable foundation as a 501(c)3, tax-exempt, nonprofit foundation. It is a purely volunteer organization, and all the effort comes from the heart.
“Kyle volunteered twice,” Schneider notes, “to join the Marines and then to deploy to Afghanistan.”
None of their volunteers receives any compensation. They work at keeping overhead costs as low as possible.
Schneider works full time as a teacher and her husband as a technician at Crouse Hospital, and they continue to work long after their daytime jobs to answer the needs of CNY veterans through their non-profit foundation.
“ I now work at least 70 hours a week,” Schneider adds.
Mission of Thanks for members of the Armed Services
The foundation keeps the Schneiders connected with the community. Before Thanksgiving, they delivered 40 turkeys and related menu items to military families in the area as a part of the Mission of Thanks.
“We are very connected and driven by Kyle,” Schneider explains.
Since 2013, the foundation has focused on six areas of support for veterans and their families:
- Caring Hands; Mission of Thanks
- Annual Memorial Scholarship Assistance
- Assistance to Wounded Warriors
- Assistance with Referrals to Support Groups
- Educational Training, and Job Opportunities
- a VA hospital family room
Their outreach has led them to partner with other veteran-focused organizations such as the Folds of Honor Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that gives scholarships to family members of either the fallen or disabled veterans. They care for all members of the Armed Services and their care adds a human touch to veterans benefits.
A non-profit foundation that gives beyond veterans benefits
“Timber Banks Golf Club “sponsored a tournament,” Schneider says, “all the proceeds went to Folds of Honor for scholarships and will now award the Central New York scholarship in honor of Kyle.”
Schneider appreciates the thoughtfulness of Syracuse and Central New York toward veterans. She sees Syracuse as a community that comes together to help and this generosity gives them the momentum to continue with their non-profit foundation.
“Just the other day we received $300 from Christian Brothers Academy,” Schneider comments appreciatively.
Working with Veterans Affairs for a family waiting room
Shortly after they started the foundation, a social worker from the Syracuse VA Medical Center contacted them and proposed the creation of a family waiting room at the medical center in honor of their son. Without hesitation, the Schneiders collaborated with the Veterans Affairs in Syracuse to convert a bleak, nursing break room into an invitingly comfortable waiting room for the family members of veterans on extended stays at the medical center. The Schneiders successfully partnered with Veterans Affairs to reach out to veterans and their family members who come to this hospital.
“ Within four days, we had a Keurig coffee maker,” Schneider notes. “Within a week, we had the room painted and fully stocked.”
The Schneiders also worked with the Syracuse VA Medical Center in seeking approval from Congress to name the waiting room in honor of their son. After a year of pushing through the bureaucratic maze, the Schneiders triumphed and the medical center received Congressional approval.
Unlike other waiting rooms, there is sense of calm here. On the wall is a banner with a quote that summarizes Kyle’s attitude, “It’s my turn to make a difference.” Just below it, there is a display box of military medals and stripes, a commemorative plaque and photos of an active and happy Cpl. Schneider. The display movingly illustrates the young man’s accomplishments, commitment, and sacrifice.
“This is Kyle,” Schneider says. “What he stood for – always protecting and always taking care of others.”
Word of this family waiting room spread across Syracuse and other groups reached out to the Schneiders in unique ways. A pile of neatly stacked coupons sits in a basket on one lampstand. They are free for the taking — another thoughtful addition to veterans benefits by this foundation.
“This is the coupon corner,” Schneider explains with a smile. “A group of woman, all Syracuse University alumni, gather every month for coffee and cut out coupons.”
A charitable foundation truly caring for veterans
Another community outreach effort of the Schneiders is Caring Hands for active and retired military. Every month, they set up a small shop of gently used clothing, furniture, appliances and other household items in the hall of their church. Contrary to marketplace practice, no money passes hands and patrons may take whatever they need. Word spread of the Schneiders’ outreach, and this time Byrne Dairy donated 200 cartons of milk for the event. The Schneiders are grateful because they can continue their son’s legacy of caring.
“We feel like we are a conduit,” Schneider remarks. “People want to help but don’t know how.”
The Schneiders have become experts in finding ways for people to help veterans and their families. They always welcome contributions or volunteers for their foundation. They are within reach at Cpl.KRSfoundation@yahoo.com.