For most teenage girls, “Sweet 16” brings to mind an extravagant celebration of their sixteenth birthday. For 15-year-old Tori Pimentel, Sweet 16 is a way to give back to soldiers for serving our country.

Tori started Operation Sweet 16 as a way to raise money for soldiers who are in need of financial assistance. The money they receive is donated to Operation Once-In-A-Lifetime, which handles the distribution of the money for things like auto repair, medical bills, and necessary travel expenses for members of the armed forces.

Tori has a long history of wanting to help the less fortunate. When Tori was seven years old, she asked her parents to “make sure Santa gave any gifts he planned to bring her to children who needed them more than she did.” For her 10th and 12th birthday parties, she asked that people donate money to the Make-A-Wish foundation rather than bring presents.

Operation Sweet 16 operates, both by encouraging online donations, and by holding fundraising events. They partner with local businesses as well as business chains, such as the Southlake, Texas Chic-fil-A.

Operation Sweet 16 operates pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

The current fundraising goal of Sweet 16 is to raise $16,000 for troops and their families. So far, Tori has raised $7,098.92 of her goal (as of November 11, 2011).

The end date for this goal is Tori’s actual sixteenth birthday – March 16, 2012.

Operation Sweet 16 is also currently in the process of becoming its own 501(c)3 organization – which will grant it the status of a tax-exempt charitable organization.

Of the general population in rural areas of the U.S. 11.5% are veterans.

Veterans Chart 1

Of United States Armed Forces veterans aged 18 to 24, nearly 20% are below the poverty line.

Veterans Chart 2

What can you do to help? Check out some of our KooDooZ challenges to begin making a difference!