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Operation Homefront gives military kids free backpacks


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Photo by Alexis A. Goring. A mom accepts a free backpack filled with school supplies for her child, courtesy of Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. A mom accepts a free backpack filled with school supplies for her child, courtesy of Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade.

Published on: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

Local children with parents stationed at Fort Meade, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Annapolis, prepared to go back to school with free book bags and supplies Aug. 14 at the VFW in Lanham.

Operation Homefront distributed 5,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to families of all military branches last week.

“We provide financial services to the wounded and deployed. In addition, we provide morale support, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Rosanne Coleman, program administrator for Operation Homefront.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. A service member hands a new backpack filled with school supplies to her child.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. A service member hands a new backpack filled with school supplies to her child.

Six hundred people were signed up to pick up the free backpacks at the VFW in Lanham, and they started arriving as early as 10 o’clock last Wednesday morning.

“We’re giving out beautiful backpacks,” Coleman said. “They are donated to us by Thirty-One bags. They have been filled by numerous different donors across the (Washington,) D.C. area, and they’re filled with school supplies. So, we hope that it gives the military kids a good start to the school year and the parents a little bit of a break on the pocketbook.”

Military wife Jaclyn Brubaker is the mother of three children.

“As a mom, I’m just glad that there’s some support and some help with school supplies,” she said. “School supplies are so expensive, and the list just seems to be getting longer and longer on what the parents need to supply. … On a military salary, sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do.”

Brubaker’s husband has been deployed three times since their son was born.

“It’s just a great thing that they do for the kids that are left behind, and the families that are left behind when your soldiers are overseas,” Brubaker said. “And it’s great to see that there are people out there that aren’t in (the) military that realize the sacrifices that we make, especially the sacrifices that the kids make.”

“We actually recently moved,” Brubaker said. “And, so, it will be a new school for him and new friends and all of that, so it’s just nice to have a little bit of support.”

Matthew Fultz, of the U.S. Army, has served for 15 years. He heard about Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade through the grapevine and decided to surprise his sons, who are entering fourth and sixth grades this school year, with the free backpacks.

“My boys are going back to school,” Fultz said. “I always need help when it comes down to school — school supplies, school uniforms. Things are starting to get more expensive every day.”

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