Since its inception 14 years ago, there is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that has provided emergency assistance to U.S. military troops and their families.
In 2015 alone, it fulfilled nearly 6,000 emergency financial assistance requests supporting more than 2,000 military families all across the country.
The group has helped place 111 service members and their families in rent-free transitional housing and created emergency assistance grants totalling $4.2 million.
In addition, 92 families were placed in mortgage-free homes helping service members and their families avoid $22.8 million in mortgage costs.
More than 32,000 military children received holiday toys, 13,641 military families received meals through holidays and other programs and about 52,500 people were impacted by other services.
The organization is Operation Homefront and its mission is to build strong, stable and secure military families by providing short-term critical assistance, long-term stability and recurring family support.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 3, the Back-to-School Brigade — or BTSB — of Operation Homefront will be at Western Oklahoma State College distributing school supplies to any active duty service members in paygrades E1 – E6 as well as any service member that is post 9/11 wounded, ill or injured.
The BTSB program has distributed more than 113,000 backpacks since the program began and more than 33,000 last year alone.
Registered children of service members will receive a backpack stuffed with school supplies, such as pens and pencils, crayons, paper, scissor, binders and more, which will help relieve the burden placed on the lower earning members of the military.
The National Retail Federation estimated in 2014 that the average family would spend $669.28 for back-to-school items with that number is expected to increase as more and more schools ask parents to help with classroom materials.
In addition to the distribution of school supplies, this year’s BTSB will also include an educational expo with base and community vendors to provide information regarding after school activities, child care options and assistance. This year’s vendors include the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Altus Air Force Base, Western Oklahoma State College, the Girl Scouts and more.
There will also be an expo on healthy eating provided by Walmart and Oklahoma State University’s Jackson County Extension Office during which each family will receive a cookbook filled with healthy recipes and each child will receive a lunch bag filled with one week’s worth of healthy snacks.
For interested parents, there is an online registration at events.operationhomefront.net.
For more information, contact Amanda Nunez by phone at 580-581-0772 or by email at Amanda.Nunez@OperationHomefront.net.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.