Families filled the Offutt Youth Center for a back-to-school event Wednesday, July 20.
Operation Backpack provided free backpacks and school supplies to military families of children going into kindergarten through eighth grade.
“We want to make sure our military-connected students are taken care of, because they’re the silent heroes,” said Liane Yanikov with the 55th Family Support Squadron.
The event aims to support military service members and Department of Defense civilians through sponsorships. This year’s sponsors included Operation Homefront, Baker’s, Cobalt Credit Union, Beardmore Subaru, USAA, Veteran’s United Home Loans, PenFed, Shadow Lake Towne Center, Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands, Offutt Base Exchange, Sarah Guy at Nebraska Realty, and Heroes for Heroes Omaha.
Rosalyn Johnson, chief of the 55th Family Support Squadron, said Operation Backpack started five years ago, taking a break in 2020 due to COVID-19. Last year, the event was held at the Offutt Air Force Base Parade Grounds. This year, the distribution took place at the Offutt Youth Center at 2508 Hruska Drive in Rising View.
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“We started out giving out 400 backpacks, and now we’re up to a thousand,” Johnson said.
Beyond back-to-school supplies, the event highlighted resources available to families, as well as information on public and private schools in the Bellevue-Offutt community.
“This is the first year that a lot of our people started PCSing again,” Johnson said, referring to service members receiving orders for a permanent change of station. “So we’ll see a lot of new faces this year.”