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Photo Caption: Volunteers Cameron Jimenez, (from left) son of Sgt. Luis Jimenez, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Sharon Jones, spouse of a 2nd Brigade Combat Team Special Troops Battalion Soldier, and Kristy Keever, spouse of a 526th Brigade Support Battalion Soldier, fill backpacks with school supplies July 25 for Operation Homefront's Back-to-School Brigade program.

August 4, 2014
By
Spc. Gary Yim, 372nd MPAD
Source: www.army.mil

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Pencils and papers. Markers and glue. The time has come to go back to school.

The Tennessee and Kentucky chapter of Operation Homefront is trying to make the new school year easier on some military Families at Fort Campbell.

The nonprofit organization is giving away 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to pre-registered active duty Families staff sergeant and below at their headquarters inside Gate 7 during the Back-to-School Brigade program July 31.

"The idea is to relieve some of the financial burden on our Soldiers who might not have much," said Val Amadon, director of programs in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Operation Homefront teamed up with Dollar Tree stores to get donations from the store's customers. Dollar Tree has been collecting donations since July 9 and will continue to collect donations until Aug. 15.

Donations collected up to Wednesday were added to the backpacks.

"The donations that are collected after July 30 will be given directly to Fort Campbell schools," Amadon said.

The backpacks were packed by volunteers during the last week.

Some volunteers had prior experience with Operation Homefront.

"We got a backpack last year," said Kristy Keever, spouse of a 526th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div. Soldier. "I felt like I should do something to help out this year."

Others were just looking for a place to volunteer and give back.

"We wanted to get out of the house and do something productive," said Norma Martinez, who volunteered with her husband, Sgt. Luis Jimenez, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade.

"We thought it would be good to bring our boys out to teach them about [selfless service]," the sergeant added.

Whatever their motivation, volunteers filled each backpack with pencils, paper, folders and age-appropriate school supplies. "The younger ones get things like crayons while the older ones get No. 2 pencils for standardized tests," said Amadon.

In order to receive a backpack, eligible recipients registered earlier this month online at www.operationhomefront.net. After the first 1,000 registrations, applicants were placed on a waiting list.

"If we have extras or if people who registered don't show up, we start going down the waiting list and give [backpacks] to them," said Amadon.

Founded in 2002 as individual chapters, Operation Homefront reorganized into a national program in 2012.

Some of the other programs the organization has include Holiday House, Star Spangled Baby Shower and Holiday Meals for Military Families.

"Our next program is a Star Spangled Baby Shower in September," said Amadon. "We will need volunteers beginning in August to help with that."

Potential volunteers can call Operation Homefront at (270) 412-9104, or can go online at www.operationhomefront.net.