Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade Provides School Supplies, Backpacks for Military Families

4Patriots makes a monthly financial donation to Operation Homefront. Once again in 2022 we provided products for the organization’s Back-to-School Brigade. 

When we think about the women and men who serve our country in the Armed Forces, we usually focus on their sacrifice and bravery. And that’s as it should be.

But something we often overlook is the financial struggle many go through. Especially when they are transferred from one base to another. Sometimes this process involves buying and selling homes every year or two and placing their children in new schools.

Every penny counts, and when the academic year rolls around, there are plenty of expenses incurred with school supplies.

That’s why Operation Homefront steps in with its Back-to-School Brigade initiative. This program provides fully stocked backpacks to tens of thousands of children of our military members each year.

Volunteers Make It Go

Samantha Martin has been an Area Manager for Operation Homefront for the past 3½ years. She covers four states (the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky) for the organization.

“It’s an enormous region, so you can imagine that we rely heavily on our volunteers,” Samantha said. “Volunteers are part of what allows us to use 88 to 90 percent of our expenditures on programs for military families.

“This number fluctuates for a number of reasons, to include the purchase and selling of homes for the veteran’s program. We have an extraordinary reach in our programs, from relief to resiliency to recurring support.”

Among Samantha’s responsibilities are managing and growing nationwide programs that impact service members and their families, as well as veterans. She conducts research, and plans and coordinates all development and fundraising to support those programs. 

She also develops and grows community relationships with clients, service providers, volunteers, military organizations or representatives, and corporations and businesses. In addition, she organizes and maintains volunteer programs, assignments, recruitment, training and retention. 

500,000th Backpack Distributed 

“This year, with more than 120 events, we at Operation Homefront are delivering our 500,000th backpack filled with school supplies to military kids, saving families over $55 million since the program began in 2008,” Samantha said.

“As you can imagine, there is lots of planning, execution and volunteer training to do to pull this off each year.”

In the past year, Operation Homefront has served 43,170 military kids through its Back-to-School Brigade program. Operation Homefront has had 62 official events serving 17,135 kids, 102 partnership events serving 23,901 kids, and 41 Hunt events that have served 2,134 kids.  

Included in the recent events were 825 backpacks distributed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, 700 at Clarksville Regional Airport in Clarksville, Tennessee, and 500 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“Military families, like many Americans, are feeling the impact of inflation and tightening budgets this year,” she said. “These families, many of them junior enlisted, deal with frequent relocations and starting over in a brand-new community and they need our support.”

Dollar Tree Stores Step Up

Each backpack is filled with items that children and teens from kindergarten through 12th grade will need for their school year.

These items include basic supplies such as pens, pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, scissors, glue and composition books.

Since 2008, most supplies have been contributed by Dollar Tree customers in stores across the nation. 

“We couldn’t do this without them,” Samantha said. “Dollar Tree stores make it possible for their customers to contribute supplies to the backpacks.”

Driving Through

Operation Homefront follows the recommended CDC guidelines for local areas for their events.

“We’ve changed our formatting,” Samantha said. “It used to be an expo-style event. It was very festive. We’d have tables of resources for military providers and a one-stop shop for school supplies and education needs.

“Since 2020, we eliminated the indoor event and made it a drive-through. We also hand out flyers for our services and partner with other organizations who align with our mission and support America’s military families.”

4Patriots, which makes a monthly financial donation to Operation Homefront, provided 825 Patriot Power UV Disinfecting Power Banks to the recent Back-to-School Brigade across the Carolinas and Tennessee.

Serving Those Who’ve Served Us

Operation Homefront is a national 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive – not simply struggle to get by – in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.

Since 2002, thanks to the support of corporate and foundation partners, as well as individual donors, Operation Homefront has provided Critical Financial Assistance (CFA), transitional and permanent housing, and recurring family support programs and services to hundreds of thousands of military families each year.

That way, those families’ short-term financial challenges do not become long-term, debilitating issues. Operation Homefront provides financial relief pertaining to food, auto and home repair, as well as rent, mortgage, and utilities, among other needs to military families through their CFA program.

At its core, Operation Homefront serves America’s military families in their time of need because they have served all of us in our nation’s time of need.

Anyone seeking more information about Operation Homefront should visit OperationHomefront.org. Also, follow them across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on their programs and events.

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