July 31, 2014 --
Parents and children showed up by the dozens, July 24, to take advantage of the installation's Operation Backpack Reload, back-to-school even for military families, which was held at the Town and Country Restaurant Grand Ballroom.
According to the event’s coordinators, this opportunity has been offered to school-aged children at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany for several years.
“This is an annual event, which we’ve been holding for about eight years now,” Paula Caserio, director, Family Care Branch, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, recalled. “Once a year, we have a back-to-school bash or some type of giveaway.”
Caserio discussed the sponsor and funding sources responsible for providing these benefits to MCLB Albany’s active-duty families.
“Operation Homefront donates backpacks, school supplies to all of our military families and we are able to benefit by that program,” Caserio shared. “So, this was donated from them in cooperation with a grant
that we also have. Between the two, we’ve been able to have this huge event for our families. We’ve had close to 70 families show up today.”
In addition to the school supplies, this year’s volunteer participants provided other information to parents and children attending the annual event.
“What we’ve done this year (a little different from previous years) is we’ve added a bit of information, which would be helpful to military families about (their) school-aged children,” Caserio said. “We included information about the (upcoming) Military Child and Educational Summit, Dougherty County School System, Worth County School System, the bus routes and tips for children, who may be having some difficulty in school."
In addition to the school supplies given to the children, some sponsors also donated free toys for the various age groups, who attended this year’s annual event.
According to Michelle Ramos, director, Youth and Teen Center, MCLB Albany, a Boys and Girls Club affiliate site, she has received toy donations in the past from these organizations.
“I took advantage of the opportunity afforded through Boys and Girls Club (of America) and the Toy Industry Foundation donations to be able to supply toys to the military families during the Operation Backpack Reload,” Ramos said. “This is actually the second year that we have combined it with a back-to-school event.
“It has been such a pleasure seeing (the children's) faces so excited when they see the toys along with all of the school supplies,” she said. “I believe we've had about 60 families to come through (today), so we have been able to help out quite a few families.”
One mother, Clatoshia D. Newkirk, echoed the sentiment of many of the parents attending the Operation Backpack Reload event.
“We wanted to take advantage of the free school supplies (in this) back-to-school event and take advantage of the free food,” she admitted. “(It's also an opportunity) to just network and find out about the other events here on base.”
In addition to all of the supplies, food and toys provided for military families at the event, Pin City Bowling Center was also opened for children to show off their bowling skills.