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Gate Builds Support for ThanksUSA

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ATLANTA A public service effort launched this week is designed to drum up support and donations for ThanksUSA, an organization raising money to provide college scholarships to children and spouses of active American military personnel.

The work includes a 30-second television spot and three print ads that were created pro bono by The Gate Worldwide, formerly Citigate Albert Frank, in New York. The campaign began running this week nationally on donated space on broadcast and cable networks and in newspapers. Other executions include a movie trailer and billboards.

Bob Okun, vice president of NBC Universal, and his two children, Rachel, 10, and Kelsi, 8, formed ThanksUSA last August. The organization already has received $4 million from the federal government to begin providing the scholarships. The ad campaign solicits more contributions.

The TV spot shows a parade in a small town with soldiers and a marching band and people waving American flags to the song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again." A voiceover states, "When Johnny comes marching home again, we'll pin a medal on his chest, pat him on the back and move on with our lives. If you think our troops deserve more than that, make a donation to our scholarship fund. Help us give them a thank you that lasts longer than a few hurrahs."

One print ad shows the Vietnam War statue in Washington, D.C., with large, superimposed text reading, "We don't need to make soldiers larger than life to look up to them."

Another print ad depicts a soldier handing a folded American flag to a woman in a cemetery. Accompanying copy states, "Troops should be honored when they're here. Not just when they're gone." The third ad presents a ticker tape parade in New York with the text, "When Johnny comes marching home again, he should get more than a few hurrahs."

The scholarships are awarded based on financial need, academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities.

"ThanksUSA is one of the only lasting ways of saying thank you to our country's military families," Okun said.

David Bernstein, executive creative director at The Gate Worldwide, said the campaign gives Americans a way to support the troops and their families.

"The way we see it, the troops are saving the world for our kids," he said. "We should do something for theirs."