JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
More than 1,400 schoolchildren from military families are going back to school with backpacks and school supplies collected during the eighth annual Build-A-Backpack Program drive sponsored by the Joint Base San Antonio Military Child Education Program-School Liaison Office from July 23-Aug. 3.
JBSA members donated 1,420 backpacks filled with school supplies, benefitting schoolchildren of active-duty and wounded servicemembers and Guard and Reserve personnel, at Military & Family Readiness Centers and libraries throughout JBSA, which were the designated collection points for the backpacks and school supplies.
The JBSA Military Child Education Program-School Liaison Office started distributing the backpacks and school supplies to 600 military families and 67 Guard and Reserve member families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade Aug. 6.
Through a community partnership program, an additional 295 backpacks were donated by the school liaison office to economically disadvantaged students in five area school districts surrounding JBSA locations.
Lori Phipps, JBSA-Lackland Military Child Education Program-School Liaison Office military child education specialist, said depending on the grade of the child, an average family spends from $100 to $250 per child on school supplies. She said that is why community support through the Build-A-Backpack Program is vital in helping those military families who need help in providing backpacks and school supplies for their children.
“It’s important because it allows our community to give back to those that may need that extra help at this time of the year,” Phipps said. “It’s allowing those school kids to receive that extra help to start the school year off right.”
JBSA members, groups, squadrons and units who donated backpacks and school supplies had the option of specifying the age group designations, grades K-3, 4-5, 6-8 or 9-12, of the child they wanted to donate the items to and writing an encouraging note to the child that was placed inside the backpack.
Phipps said the JBSA community has always been supportive of the Build-A-Backpack Program since it started eight years ago.
“Over the past eight years, JBSA has never let us down,” she said. “Our community has always come through for our military children. We truly appreciate the love and support of our kids.”
Nita Ford-Hightower, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military Child Education Program-School Liaison Office school liaison officer, said through the Build-A-Backpack Program and Operation Homefront, 250 schoolchildren from the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston community were provided with backpacks.
Operation Homefront is a nonprofit organization that provides support and programs to military families in need of help. Ford-Hightower said the donations from Operation Homefront were through school supplies provided from two area Dollar Tree stores.
“This was an excellent campaign,” Ford-Hightower said. “We were able to provide 250 children with backpacks. We really have a great giving installation. They participated in good numbers.”
Tiffany Ladson, a military spouse whose husband, Army Spc. Alfred Ladson III, is stationed at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, is grateful for the Build-A-Backpack Program. Her two sons each received a donated backpack.
“The program was a true blessing to us,” Ladson said. “They (children) went to school with excitement and pride in having all of their school supplies and new backpacks.”
Ladson had one message for those JBSA community members who donated backpacks for her children.
“Thank you tremendously for all of your kindness and generosity,” she said.